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Before You Share, Beware: 5 Ways to Spot a Hoax

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A Hoax is a Hoax is a Hoax

If you haven’t been acquainted with this travel-related internet hoax that fooled the Guardian and Huffington Post, perhaps now is the time. Long story short, Elan Gale, the producer of the Bachelor tricked thousands into believing there was an exceptionally rude passenger on his flight and that he started sending her kind-of funny, kind-of mean-spirited notes. It’s a whole narrative that unfolds on Twitter.

The hoax was uncovered when a person came out and claimed that “Diane,” the passenger Elan harassed had late-stage lung cancer. He had to come out (+90,000 Twitter followers) and admit Diane never existed or he would have ended up on the list of 2013’s worst people.

“I knew it!” I said to my sister. “The flight attendants, the slap. Anyone who received a note like that would have probably reported it. And who are these flight attendants passing notes back and forth?”

Before you Share, Beware

The first part of a hoax or scam is hooking people emotionally. A rude airline passenger is pretty relatable. No one likes the “underdog” (the flight attendant) being pushed around by a rude woman on a holiday weekend.

He had his audience. The audience wanted the story to be true. So the mind just go ahead and ignores all the red flags. Even smart people are vulnerable to hoaxes and scams. If you get sucked into a hoax, just think of Oprah and A Million Little Pieces.

Here are some ways to spot a hoax:

1. It’s April Fool’s Day. Whatever it is, don’t share it. Don’t even answer your phone. McDonald’s isn’t making a hulahoop-sized hamburger out of puppies and Tupac is long gone. And please delete that Back to the Future hoax.

2. The character’s actions aren’t believable. Diane’s complaint about a delayed flight didn’t warrant the sending of wine and the (ahem) STFU, E-M-D notes. Travellers and flight attendants see these passengers like her all.the.time. I can’t see investing that amount of energy in someone who huffed about her plane being late and was frustrated about missing Thanksgiving. I also couldn’t see James Frye, a mousy guy from the burbs punching guys twice his size in the face. Just think, would someone like him really do something like that?

3. Too many details. He mentions how Diane wore mom jeans with a studded belt and had a medical mask on. Lots of unasked-for details there. It’s like murdering someone and describing exactly what you were doing at the time of their murder.

“I had a peppermint mocha latte at Starbucks. I was wearing a black itchy sweater with a deer on it. I sat behind a man who was nervously drumming Guess Who’s Back by the Backstreet Boys on the table with his fingertips. I was there for 3.15 hours.”

Guess who’s now a suspect?

4. Details that don’t add up. Elan says he could hear her breathing rows back. And yet, she’s wearing a medical mask. Hmmmm. Also, flight attendants don’t normally pass notes between passengers. If they did, I’m pretty sure I would have received one a long time ago about my nervous habit of opening and closing the plane’s window shade. And I definitely would have sent one to my infamous passenger, the drunk girl who put her feet next to my armrest.

5. The source of the hoax is a famous person. Or someone who needs attention. Elan is the producer for one of those terrible reality shows where they trick women into getting drunk and angry and then film them to make “great television.” That’s the first clue. Never trust anyone who works in reality TV.

Did you fall for it? Comment below!

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Author: angloadventure

Professional travel writer and near-professional wanderer. Recently lived in Seattle and Quebec City. Traveled across country three times in a car. Can find the best pizza in any city. Published in Fodor's travel guides, Delta Sky, Where magazine, Viator and others.

6 thoughts on “Before You Share, Beware: 5 Ways to Spot a Hoax

  1. I saw this floating around and thought the same thing! The slap? Come ON, no one just walks up to a stranger and slaps them in the face in the middle of a crowded airport! People watch too much TV.

  2. Never heard of it. I tend not to take the bait for these things, the same way I purposely avoid the recent rash of “What this girl does with the hot dog will amaze you/make you cry/rekindle your hope for mankind/nauseate you.

  3. Been reading hoax news from people sharing it and thinks they are true. Some coming from sites making hoax news for entertainment however, some people can’t recognize it and believe on the news. Thanks for the helpful.

  4. Pingback: 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Writers | Anglo Adventure

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