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What was fake on the Internet this week: Ebola edition

Filed under: English |

There is so much fake stuff on the Internet in any given week that we’ve grown tired of debunking it all. Fake Twitter fights. Fake pumpkin-spice products. Amazing viral video? Nope — a Jimmy Kimmel stunt!

So, rather than take down each and every undeservedly viral story that crosses our monitors each week, we’re rounding them all up in a quick, once-a-week Friday debunk of fake photos, misleading headlines and bad studies that you probably shouldn’t share over the weekend.

Ready? Here’s what was fake on the Internet this week:

1. The only people who contracted Ebola in America, as of this writing, are two nurses who treated a Liberian man in Dallas. That is it, full stop, there is no one else. We could devote an entire Friday debunking — nay, an entire series of Friday debunkings — to nothing but the false Ebola rumors flitting around locations as far-flung as Anchorage. Instead, let’s make this brief: Nobody in the United States currently has Ebola, except (a) Nina Pham, who is currently being treated in isolation at the National Institutes of Health and (b) Amber Vinson, who was recently transferred to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital.

Yes, some tweeter in Alaska did cleverly Photoshop a page to make it look as though there was an outbreak at an Anchorage High School. And yes, a student in California did cause a brief panic when she claimed to have Ebola symptoms in order to get out of class.

Both of these individuals were lying, however, as was the woman outside of Columbus, Ohio who told police she had symptoms of the disease; the dumb-news site National Report, which claimed a family in Texas had been quarantined; the even dumber-news site Organ Grinder Magazine, which said Bono contracted the disease; and every person claiming marijuana, salt water, vitamin C or other nonsense cures protect against Ebola. In the interests of avoiding further senseless panic, you might want to avoid tweeting rumors like these until they’ve been confirmed by a news outlet you’ve actually heard of before.