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Media Mass is a parody news site best known for debunking celebrity rumors that never actually circulated. The fictional celebrity death hoaxes they have created have been reported on as fact by several real news sites, most notably after the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Media Mass was launched in late October 2012. Based in China, the site describes itself as:
“the medium of our satire to expose with humour, exaggeration and ridicule the contemporary mass production and mass consumption that we observe
Also it will not only mock the producers (mainstream media, journalists) as it is common when questioning and criticizing mass media, but also the consumers as one cannot exist without the other. Sensationalism, lack of verification of information, ethics and standards issues are only symptoms of the actual social and economic order. This is particularly obvious when observing the role of social networking sites in spreading rumours."
The site produces articles through a template which introduces a celebrity based hoax, normally a major event such as a death or marriage, as if they are debunking it, when in fact it never existed. Each article features a disclaimer posed as an update with the day’s date reading “UPDATE 12/06/2014 : This story seems to be false.” The articles feature images of fake tabloid magazine covers that appear to confirm the article’s story.
Celebrity death hoax posts reference a Facebook page titled “RIP (name of the celebrity)” which supposedly was created after death rumors began to circulate, but the Facebook pages never existed.
According to Alexa MediaMass has a global ranking of 17,352, and receives most of its visitors (21.6%) from the US, with France as its second largest supplier. As of June 2014, the site’s Facebook page has gained over 14,000 likes.
Several websites have expressed anger and frustration with Media Mass and its fake hoaxes. In an article published on WafflesatNoon published on June 11th, 2013, the author expresses frustration at the sites’ ability to fool real news sites saying:
“This supposedly-satirical website offers untold numbers of fake, duplicated stories regarding celebrities in the name of humor. There are two primary problems with this scenario, however: the stories aren’t funny and real news sites have been fooled by these phony articles.”
The article goes on to list publications that have reported on Media Mass hoaxes as if they were real including The Huffington Post and India Today. An article published on The Free Republic on November 30th, 2013, covering the death hoax hoax Media Mass created around actor Paul Walker’s death called the site “cruel.”
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death
Following the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, several news sites reported he had been the vicitim of a death hoax shortly before his actual death. The hoax was traced back to a death hoax hoax article on Media Mass, as explained by the Chicago Tribune. A representative for Media Mass explained to the Tribune:
“I’m not a journalist, Mediamass is not a news media (nor pretend to be) and the articles are published as fake.”
When journalists discovered the hoax had been a hoax, many were angry and critical toward Media Mass. The Telegraph published an updated article titled “Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death: sick website solves the mystery of the ‘hoax’.” When News.AU reported on the hoax hoax they described those behind the site as “having too much time on their hands.” News sites also reported on a Media Mass death hoax hoax, believing the hoax to be real, after the death of actor Paul Walker.
Tracy Morgan Death Hoax
The day before actor Tracy Morgan was involved in a serious car accident on June 7th, 2014, Media Mass published a fake death hoax post about the actor. A few minor websites such as The Count reported on the hoax as if it was real, remarking on the eerie coincidence of a death hoax emerging so near a near-fatal incident. On June 8th, 2014, IBTimes published an article that traced the hoax back to Media Mass.
Museum of Hoaxes MediaMass.net--the site that debunks nonexistent rumors
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