Hi, please

What Lies Ahead

[The images below refer to the recent instances of
irresponsible spreading of unverified information on
each of the following platforms. I did not initiate
or spread any of them.]

F a c e b o o k

Information content on this site includes text – status updates and wall posts, mainly. These are major rumor-mongering tools because they do not cite a source beyond themselves and their accuracy and authority can therefore not be verified. Content also includes shared links which can be evaluated to verify authenticity and accuracy. I will post incorrect information in both formats and ensure that it can be verified as incorrect.

T w i t t e r

Information content on this site includes brief text often accompanied by an external link. Information authenticity can in such cases be verified by looking at the link. I will request twitter users with large followings to help propagate my lie by linking to a web page created by me as a source. On that web page I will mention that the information is incorrect.


B l o g s

Blogs usually hotlink to the source of the information that they use. This hotlink may in turn point to another blog or any other source. I will seek help from popular bloggers to include in their blogs incorrect information and hotlink it to a web page that I will create. The page will clearly state that the information is incorrect.

Y o u t u b e

Youtube videos usually do not link to an outside source of information and may be compelling enough to hide inaccuracy behind emotions. I will post at least one video on youtube which is emotionally stimulating but factually incorrect. I will link it, in its description, to a web page that will mention that the information is incorrect.


The key concept here is trust. Trust makes the world wide web possible. It leaves us vulnerable, but without it there will be no network. So  do we always doubt and betray (in line with Game Theory)? Or do we always trust? Or is there a middle path?

If I decide to use more platforms, I will make a post about them.

Similar Posts:


  1. nadine 11:38, Feb 9th, 10

    Hi Harris! I really liked your initial idea about the rumor. However, the lies you put out about Haiti are very damaging, they just create even more confusion. This is not fun! I don’t think you should mess around with such serious allegations! Especially the Israeli doctor thing. There has been a similar allegations of doctors accused steeling Palestinian or Egyptian organs, creating grave tensions, and not helpful at all! As you might have read, Israeli army doctors are doing great work in Haiti. Please change your topic!

  2. Harris 12:24, Feb 9th, 10

    Dear Nadine,

    None of these lies have been created or spread by me. These are examples of already-existing popular lies on each of these platforms. Click on the images to read the story about the hoaxes. They have been cited as examples of how people accept and spread unverified information.

  3. nadine 12:54, Feb 9th, 10

    Sorry Harris! I didn’t get that you embedded your images with links to articles, my fault! So are you investigating these particular cases, or still create some hoaxes yourself?

  4. Harris 13:18, Feb 9th, 10

    Since some level of quantification will be required, I think I’m gonna have to create something entirely new. Suggestions are welcome though. I’m thinking more along humorous lines now, like you suggested last night.

  5. nadine 13:38, Feb 9th, 10

    The trust issue is very important- obviously, an established television information channel, or newspaper is more trusted than a youtube video, or twitter feed.

    Now see what happened in Belgium after a national television channel broadcasted a hoax about the Belgium monarchy being overthrown:
    More about this and other hoaxes in http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/forums/viewthread/2692/

  6. Leslie 14:39, Feb 9th, 10

    I feel like it’s also important to note that there are websites and news sources that are picking up on these hoaxes and presenting them as such, as shown through your links. Not everyone is just aimlessly following “lies” that are spread throughout the internet. Rather, people are actively attempting to set these lies straight and present factual information. I guess a question could be what’s spreading faster- the truth or the lie? Probably, in most cases, the lie, since they tend to be more sensational in nature.

  7. Harris 15:19, Feb 9th, 10

    Leslie, thank you for your response.
    I’m sorry I did not intend to imply that everyone aimlessly follows the lies spread on the internet. I only meant to ask it as a question: Do we verify the facts that we should verify, or do we trust each other too much on the web?
    I’m not sure if we can compare a truth and a lie in terms of what travels faster. Most truths are taken for granted and the speed with which they travel is not considered. Only those truths that are meant to counter lies travel slower than the lies. Because the lies get a headstart. In the words of Mark Twain who I also quoted earlier, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes,”

  8. nadine 16:04, Feb 9th, 10

    About the trust-issue: In general, people trust more an established television information channel or a newspaper than a twitter.
    Now look at the impact that a hoax in Belgium had, when a national television channel announced that the monarchy has been overthrown:
    Here more about the incident in the “museum of hoaxes”:

  9. nadine 16:08, Feb 9th, 10

    About the trust issue: In general, people trust people an established news channel or newspaper than Twitter or Youtube.
    Now look at the impact that a hoax of a national television channel had in Belgium, that announced that the monarchy had been overthrown: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/14/world/europe/14iht-belgium.3902589.html
    More about the case and other hoaxes here:

  10. HoniehLayla 19:06, Feb 11th, 10

    Harris, LOVED your post.

    How are you tracking your results by the way – I am very interested to see how far these lies have actually spread. The values you are implementing in each of the “lies” are carefully crafted and I think by implementing emotion it will definitely trigger a nerve people to act by reposting/retweeting or simply replying to your information.

    This is a side note – but have you seen this site before..

    Its based on Scamming the Scam Artists in Nigeria… they send you a “lie” .. such as requesting your bank account info to transfer an amount of money for them – well this movement which is now considered a cybersport – helps you seek revenge against them by wasting their time, and sometime making them do ridiculous things like, sending you a picture of them posing…


  11. mushon 09:42, Feb 12th, 10

    Harris, you mentioned game theory and wanting to contact powerful bloggers tweeter users and so on. I think you’ll have a hard time convincing people to lie for you or even to spread existing lies as these people got powerful as social/info hubs specifically because they maintain their followers trust. In Game Theory terms that would be the Recurring Prisoner’s Dillema – or the boy who cried wolf. A lie bares a high price from the lier’s social capital and credibility. These two are both very high currencies in an information rich environment such as the web. If you’re nobody you can lie as much as you want, who cares… If you’re somebody lying will impact your social position. This is the ABC of reputation systems. Otherwise I think the social web would have not been half as important as it is.

  12. Juliette 09:45, Feb 12th, 10

    This question on reliability of the information on the Internet is a real challenge. We should definitely work on a tool to certify information. Harris You might want to have a look at this french website (the French equivalent of Hufftington Post). Le Post has established a ranking
    -info from the Redaction
    -Info from guests
    -Verified info etc…
    I think this kind of classification gives hindsight to readers and helps them finding their way through the loads of information.

    I LOVE your reference to the Belgian news Lie! In France it was a Huge buzz. The lie spread very quickly and once it has disclosed the TV channel has to apologize and was in trouble…
    But actually people were mostly surprised by the fact that they had buy into this lie rather than by the lie in itself.

  13. juliette b 10:05, Feb 12th, 10

    Html keeps on giving me a hard time haha!
    This is a link