We could say it was a move that surprised no one, if anybody had actually moved.
This is not the first time SCIFI.radio has ever published an article about a hoax, but this the first time we’ve specifically published the refutation of one.
The story is about a strange subculture called the Flat Earthers, believe that the world is flat as a pancake. This in itself seems as a work of science fiction. The Flat Earthers are supposedly being targeted and banned by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. He’s not doing this, and they aren’t.
The entire kerfluffle seems to originate from a fake news / satire web site called the Nevada County Scooper, which posted an article titled Facebook to Ban All Flat Earth Groups.
“4,000 Feet Below Sea Level — In a rare tweet from Mark Zuckerberg, the social media giant Facebook has announced it will be eliminating all groups associated with, or related to spreading, flat earth propaganda from its social media platform. Mr. Zuckerberg cited, “as one of many reasons,” a young man’s suicide which occurred because the young man could no longer ‘live in a world of lies.’
“The young man was a long-time flat earth advocate and flat earth shill on facebook, primarily in flat earth groups. He was also known to post flat earth gibberish in recipe groups and dog injury groups as well, but that’s really beside the point. He was one of those people who really does believe the earth is flat. Well, he did until he died.”
The entire article is fabrication, starting with a fake Zuckerberg quote about how he views us all as his children and that we need to be protected. The rest of it is fake too, including a quote from a Facebook spokesperson named Bethany Millbright:
“As of August 1st all flat earth affiliated groups on Facebook will be permanently archived. You will be able to see the groups, but you will no longer be able to post or comment. We will also get your little public pages, too.”
Millbright is actually a continuing fictional character who shows up in several Nevada Country Scooper articles in various roles as the story needs require.
Want absolute confirmation that it’s a fake article? Read the disclaimer on their Terms and Conditions page:
Notice of intent
This website is satirical in scope and intent. It provides social criticism in a satirical, sometimes news-genre setting. We are not a fake news site, but rather an entertainment one. Sometimes it’s just plain-old crappy writing with a few bad jokes. Anyhow, if this offends you, you might want to consider doing something else with your time not looking at the Internet. Really, the quality of your life will improve dramatically. Also, our intention is not to fool anyone, but if you do get fooled please don’t sweat it. Please have fun and lighten up and watch out for Snopes.com. We’re not sure they’ve had all their vaccinations.
The end result is, of course, that people encounter articles on the site and take them as real anyway, with the disclaimer cleverly hidden on a page few people visit, owing to the fact that the top menu on the web site that would ordinarily lead you to that page is broken, making it very difficult to see the disclaimer at all unless you open the source for the web page as we did.
The Flat Earth Society
The entire phenomenon of the Flat Earthers is surprisingly not just a new meme as of about ten years ago, when the Flat Earth Society relaunched itself in 2009. It’s actually much older than that. The original Flat Earth Society was created in 1956 by Samuel Shelton, as a successor to the original Universal Zetetic Society. It was based on a denial of scientific method, for the most part, and an insistence that the views of the Catholic Church – that the Earth was flat and that the heavens were nested domes placed over it by the Creator, and that the stars were at most no more than 3,500 miles away.
Modern Flat Earthers are group of people who try to convince others that the whole Earth being roughly spherical thing is made up fiction, and that there’s a mass conspiracy of people trying to convince you of the fact that the Earth is round. They seem to be a mix of satirists, amused by the whole silly notion, but with a few true believers mixed in. Thomas Dolby was the first member of the newly recreated Flat Earth Society, because in 1984 he released an album called The Flat Earth. This became the name for his fan club and subsequent web site forums, and in 2004, Daniel Shelton, founder of the modern version of the Society (and no relation to the original), invited Dolby to join as its first member. While not a believer himself, Dolby accepted.
Since then they’ve been creating social mayhem, challenging scientific discovery (and specifically NASA) wherever they can. There are a number of Facebook groups dedicated to the idea of a planoterrestrial explanation of the origin and nature of the planet we all live on, but despite the hoax article, there’s nothing to worry about. Free speech is not being arbitrarily abridged.
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