A staple of 2016 “journalism” is taking random stories off Reddit and writing them up as gospel. It’s how we hip millennials report the news.
But anyone can make up a completely anonymous account on Reddit and write whatever the hell they want. The site is full of trolls just looking to get a rise out of people.
That’s why it was so easy for one Redditor to hoax various media outlets with an outlandish story of incest posted on the site’s women forum, /r/TwoXChromosomes. The story, picked up by Cosmo, The Daily Mail, Uproxx and others, describes a harrowing tale of a young couple rocked by the revelation they are half siblings just six weeks before their wedding. The woman poster who calls herself Cersei (in reference to the incestuous Game of Thrones queen) said she confronted her fiancé about it, only to find he had known for months and kept the information from her out of love.
The story was outlandish, yet told in a fairly convincing manner, and leaves it open whether she would stay with her half-brother/love of her life. Cersei received an outpouring of genuine support and advice from the TwoX community.
Then the next day Cersei posts on /r/Journalism confessing to the hoax and chiding the media outlets for not striving to confirm the story. From the post it appears Cersei does not see herself (himself? who knows) as a troll but an anti-fake news crusader out to take the media to task for their lack of ethical standards.
Cersei took umbrage with the fact that none of these outlets bothered to reach out to her for comment and just published the story without question. She even alleges the Cosmo writer lied about reaching out.
To cover my ass from her scorn, I reached out for comment…
but she wouldn’t even answer my question and told me to go get her statement from some Australian blog. This taught me nothing about journalism! I’m never asking for comment again…
Other Redditors soured on Cersei due to her self righteousness and the apparent pointlessness of her actions. One Redditor called it “kind of a dick move” and “nothing new.”
The TwoXChromosomes community were not pleased either. They operate at times as a support group for women and try to shy away from doubting each other’s stories to avoid the realm of “victim blaming”. Cersei essentially added to users’ suspicious that people could be posting lies in TwoX for attention.
“Hundreds of people took time out of their day in an attempt to answer your requests for help,” a mod of TwoX wrote. “It was wrong to abuse that, possibly making them less likely to assist someone who really needs it in the future.”
If Cersei just acted like a troll and said she did the whole thing for laughs, her moral standing would probably be higher (or at least less hypocritical). Instead she used a support group community to prove some dumb point about fake news everybody knows already, then act all high and mighty about it.