Fake news sites and stories are nothing new, but they seem to have become more pronounced over the past few years. According to News24, South Africa in particular has seen its share of stories that amounted to being nothing but hoaxes.

Click-baiting is something that could certainly be considered a driving force behind many of these stories, but sometimes people also just make things up for pure fun of it.

Here are five stories that went viral, but ultimately ended up being hoaxes:

The pregnancy hoax

Now this story, to put it bluntly, is one hot mess.

According to Buzzfeed, it all started when 18-year old Shantasia Phillips tweeted Kyle Harris (who’s behind the popular @kylegotjokes Twitter account) an image of an ultrasound.  

Now that might seem like an innocent story, but it turns out that Shantasia was trying to get hold of him (apparently Kyle blocked her number) in order to tell him that she was pregnant.

The news, understandably, caused a massive upset and the Twittersphere was quick to spread the unconfirmed news like a raging wildfire.

Kyle, however, was having none of that. He flat-out denied that he fathered her baby, instead trying to place the blame on his friend. Of course, things got a lot messier when Kyle tried to get his girlfriend involved, only to be rudely rebuffed and (we’re guessing) dumped.

But, the real twist in the story is that the ultrasound pic (and as such, the pregnancy) was discovered to be fake after a reverse image search was done.

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Shantasia confirmed that the image was fake and that she only posted the ultrasound pic because she wanted to wreck his relationship with his girlfriend.

So much drama!

Desmond Tutu death reports

After being admitted to hospital not too long ago, rumours began to circulate that Archbishop Desmond Tutu had died. According to News24, this happened after he was readmitted to hospital for developing a secondary post op infection.

The news, understandably, caused a massive upset and the Twittersphere was quick to spread the unconfirmed news like a raging wildfire.

The story originally appeared on t1meslive.co.za (not to be confused with timeslive.co.za). The story no longer exists. It prompted Tutu’s daughter, Mpho, to speak out, labelling it “disturbing and unkind.”  

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After making both national and international news headlines, it soon emerged that Falcon was never actually in the balloon but, in fact, hiding in the family’s attic.

The woman with three breasts

Anyone remember Jasmine Tridevil? Back in 2014, Jasmine, whose real name is Alisha Hessler, first made headlines when it was claimed that she spent more than $20 000 dollars (R278 627) to get a third breast implant.

She said it was all because she, apparently, wanted to make herself less attractive to men. Photos and videos of Jasmine surfaced and spread all over the net. Except, it wasn’t long before it was exposed as fake.

According to TMZ, after her luggage was stolen in Tampa, police investigated the contents of her bag and discovered a breast prosthesis.  

Mystery solved.

The balloon boy hoax

Who could possibly forget the story about the boy who supposedly floated away in a helium balloon, and whose disappearance, according to the New York Times, led to one of the nation’s most televised rescue searches.

Richard and Mayumi Heene led the public and rescue service to believe that the then 6-year-old Falcon, somehow ended up inside a helium balloon that floated away after playing with it.

After making both national and international news headlines, it soon emerged that Falcon was never actually in the balloon but, in fact, hiding in the family’s attic.

To make matters worse, it was all said to be a deliberate publicity stunt, one that both Richard and Mayumi (who have previously appeared on the reality show, Wife Swap) deny to this day.

The Icelandic marriage proposals

Many Icelandic women found themselves subject to unwanted marriage proposals following a story posted on The Spirit Whispers which claimed that due to a lack of men in the country, the government would pay foreign men $5 000 (R69 464) per month if they married women from Iceland.

According to Buzzfeed, the “news” spread across a wide variety of platforms and many women started receiving proposals almost immediately.

What is the most memorable hoax you remember? Tell us about your favourite fake stories and we could feature it in a future article.   

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