15 Things the Internet Told Us That Just Aren’t True
You know what they say: If it's on the Internet then it must be true. Well, we're about to bust that theory. Here are a whole bunch of "facts" from the Internet that aren't exactly true—or true at all!
This story predates the Internet. It started in the 1950s but persists to this day, thanks, in part, to people continuing to post decade-appropriate variations on the Internet. The original goes like this: A woman who wore a huge bouffant never took it down, combed it out, or washed it. One day, a spider fell into her hair, took up residence, and hatched a baby spider, which bit her… fatally. The thing is, it wasn’t true then, nor in the ’60s (when the woman wore her hair long and unkempt), nor in the ’90s (when she wore dreadlocks), nor now. Nor ever. Neither were these celebrity death hoaxes that spread on the Internet (and that you probably fell for).
If you were a kid in the 1970s, you might remember your first piece of Bubble Yum. So sweet! So soft! So… full of spider eggs?! What?! In some weird form of bubblegum backlash, rumors abounded that Bubble Yum was made from spider eggs, spider legs, or spider webs (depending on the source). It wasn’t true, and the company spent over $100,000 battling the rumor, which is still circulated to this day, thanks to repeated postings on the Internet.
Cadbury the hatchet
In a current version of the “so good it has to be fatal” candy trope, a rumor began circulating earlier this year that a Cadbury employee had been arrested for “adding his HIV-infected blood” to the company’s products. But this is pure fiction. HIV doesn’t survive long enough outside its host medium of human bodily fluids to pose a risk, even if an employee were to have done something so awful. And there’s no record of any such thing, nor of any such arrest. P.S. It also wasn’t true when the product in question was Pepsi or, for that matter, Mango Frooti. Don’t miss these 17 scientific “facts” that are actually not true.
Chocolate milk’s dark udder-belly
How does chocolate milk get to be brown? Some Internet postings claim that chocolate milk is made with cow’s milk that was rejected as regular milk because it contains cow’s blood. However, those postings are hogwash. Chocolate milk is brown because of chocolate, and, no, it doesn’t come exclusively from brown cows either.
Whatever you may have heard on the Internet, Twinkies do not last forever. Their shelf life is 25 days. While that in itself is pretty remarkable for a baked good, let’s not get ahead of ourselves: it’s not even a month, let alone the rumored seven years. Or 25. Or 100. Or indefinitely. Just, no. Make sure you know the truth about these 21 other food myths that have been debunked.
Sleep, baby, sleep
“If only,” some parents might say about the Internet rumor that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a tranquilizer dart gun designed to put children to sleep. But alas, it is just an Internet rumor (and a pretty darn silly one at that).
You snooze, you lose… your life
Internet reports that a napping morgue worker in Texas was accidentally cremated by a coworker are greatly exaggerated. In fact, they’re completely false… and so are these other sleep myths that are ruining your chance of catching some Zzzs.
Facebook’s echo chamber algorithm
Tired of opening Facebook only to see posts from the same boring friends? Well, stop blaming Facebook because those Internet rumors that a Facebook algorithm only shows you posts from about two dozen friends in your newsfeed aren’t true—and won’t be, no matter how many times you repost it or post emojis or “hi” stickers on other people’s repostings of it. Oh, and in case you think your stock certificates got lost in the mail, Facebook never promised to gift you with shares of its stock just because you posted a message congratulating Zuckerberg on the birth of his baby.
You know those social media posts/text messages that tell you to “forward this message to help fund medical care” for a boy who was shot by his stepfather, a boy with the massive, disfiguring tumor, a baby born with his heart outside his body, or a variety of other children depicted in gruesome photos? Sorry. There’s not a shred of truth to them. As fact-checking website Snopes says, “if you want to make a difference in a sick child’s life, the best way is still the old-fashioned one: donate your money or your time, not a worthless text message.”
This post has been banned for its offensive content
You’re just minding your business, posting a photo of a bacon sandwich on Facebook, when next thing you know, your post is taken down and you get a warning about posting offensive content. Happens all the time, right? No, it does not. You know why? Because generally speaking, photos of bacon are not offensive and aren’t banned by Facebook. Nor are photos of amputees, double mastectomies (at least not anymore), or nativity scenes—despite what the Internet would have you believe. On the other hand, here are 50 things that actually have been banned across the country.
I reject your rejection
Back in 2015, college-bound high school seniors and their anxiety-ridden parents got a kick out of a Tumblr post by high school senior, Siobhan O’Dell, who had been denied admission by Duke University. In the post, O’Dell rejected Duke’s rejection of her, and apparently, Duke responded by rejecting her rejection of its rejection of her. The truth is, O’Dell didn’t send the letter to Duke. She didn’t even write it. In fact, her letter was drafted from a template that’s been circulating the Internet for at least 20 years now. This is what “URL” actually stands for.
Flu shots cause the flu
Heard this one hoax about the deadly flu epidemic caused by a flu shot that contained live flu virus? Well, we sincerely hope it didn’t keep you from getting your flu shot this year—because it’s false. While it’s true the current flu season has been the worst in years, and this season’s vaccine wasn’t as effective as vaccines from other seasons, the flu vaccine contains no live flu virus and is safe for most people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read on for 55 more rampant health myths that need to die.
Root canals cause cancer
Root canals aren’t exactly pleasant, and maybe you’d like an excuse to skip it if your dentist ever suggests you get one. But do they cause terminal cancer, as the Internet rumor goes? No, no they do not. In fact, healthy teeth and gums are associated with better health, and research has shown that people who undergo multiple root canals and similar endodontic treatments have a reduced risk of cancer.
Cancer cures straight from the garden
If only it were true that dandelion root could cure cancer. But those Internet claims that it kills 98 percent of cancer cells within 48 hours are simply not true. Same goes for soursop (the fruit of the graviola tree), which is the subject of its own Internet cancer-cure-claims. Don’t miss these 50 myths about cancer that need to die.
Is Snopes actually a fake fake-news site?
Regardless of whatever you might have heard, when it comes to fact-checking, Snopes.com (the source of clarification for many of the above fake Internet facts) has been found to be a reliable fact-checking source, according to fact-checking website, Factcheck.org, a non-profit project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. And while we’re at it, here are 51 more “facts” you’ve always believed that are false.