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Back in 2002, Americans had a field day after a major Chinese newspaper republished an absurd report published on fake-news site The Onion. According to the story, Congress was threatening to move out of Washington unless the government built it a new Capitol with a retractable dome.
Cue the glass-house-stone-throwing cliches. The American site Gizmodo, which recently scooped the world by acquiring an advance prototype of what is believed to be Apple’s next iPhone model, republished a story about an American woman who claimed have been impregnated by watching a 3D porn film. The source was Sensacionalista, a Brazilian site that is modeled after, er, The Onion. (Its Portuguese motto, prominently displayed, translates as: “A newspaper exempt from the truth.”)
On Tuesday, Sensacionalista posted the fake story, which describes how a 38 year-old white woman named Jennifer Stweart (sic) gave birth to a black baby while her (also white) husband was deployed to Iraq. She then blamed the pregnancy on a 3D movie she and some girlfriends had gone to see in New York, claiming the baby resembled the black actor from the film.
Her husband, Erick Jhonson (double sic), believed her explanation. “I don’t have any reason not to trust her,” the story quotes him as saying. “3D films are very realistic. With today’s technology anything is possible.”
Marcelo Zorzanelli, a journalist in Sao Paulo who is one of Sensacionalista’s editors, said traffic has spiked on the site since the article went viral on Twitter. It has had over 50,000 hits for four straight days, compared to the usual 2,000 or so. Sensacionalista is now milking the publicity, publishing a follow-up under the headline, "One of the Biggest Sites in the World Publishes Sensacionalista Article As If It Were Real."
The article was first picked up by PopJolly.com, which cited “reports” and linked to the Sensacionalista article. GizModo took it from there. (Dozens of other sites have also linked to the report, quoted it, or written about it.)
PopJolly has since added a note that though the news “came from a reputable source,” it “appears to be a fabrication”. (They made “repeated attempts to validate it.”) GizModo has also updated their original piece, noting that “this could all well be a hoax.”
UPDATE: Gizmodo has now fully corrected their piece -- strikethrough style.