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How a News Story Becomes a Hoax

You may have seen viral "weird news" story over the weekend about a man in Japan who died when his six tons of pornography fell on him. It was exactly the kind of story that goes viral. The problem is that it did not happen, or more accurately, it did not happen that way, but was "sexed up" to grab headlines.

So what really happened? Recently a Japanese man was found dead in his apartment. The man lived alone and had been dead for a month before he was discovered. The coroner ruled that he’d died of a heart attack. How do we know the real story? It was reported in Nikkan Spa in Japan on February 28, 2017. The Daily Mail story was published on March 3rd, 2017.

The Daily Mail story doesn’t link out to Nikkan Spa, or acknowledge at all where its information came from. The average reader would assume that all the information presented in the Daily Mail story was collected by the Daily Mail alone. It appears that nothing in the Daily Mail’s version contains original reporting, aside from the sensationalist errors that it introduced.

Yes, the man had a porn collection, and it factored into the story, but not in the way it was circulated. The story of how it got changed along the way is even more interesting than the viral hoax. Gizmodo looks at how the story became something it's not and the importance of digging deeper when something doesn't pass the smell test.


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