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10 times the web got it seriously wrong

Don't believe everything you read

Don't believe everything you read on the web. We've rounded up the internet's 10 biggest howlers.

Did you hear? Britney Spears had a fatal run-in with a pretzel, a guy named Homosexual ran in the Olympic 100-metre final, and US President Obama attended a Muslim academy.

What? You missed that news? Well, that might be because all those stories are untrue. But that didn't stop them from appearing on the web, and in some cases, on reputable and popular sites.

Nobody's perfect, of course. But on the web, imperfection can come at a high price: false news reports can torpedo a share price, harm someone's reputation, or reduce fans of a supposedly dead celebrity to tears. As news publishing systems become more automated, they're easy prey for hackers, hoaxers, and half-hearted algorithms. Or they can be done in by human error, magnified a million times by the viral nature of the net.

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"Once something is online and people start finding it, it's just a matter of time before it starts spreading through links, blogs, Twitter, email, or IM," says Craig Silverman, editor of Regret The Error, which tracks journalistic goofs.

"The web is a fantastic medium for making information go viral. It's also a great tool for fact checking. Unfortunately, the latter takes more time to do, and a lot of people - journalists included - link before they think to check something out."

The results can be humorous or disastrous; they can lead to fake death notices or fiscal debacles. Over the page are our picks for the web's 10 biggest cock ups.

NEXT PAGE: the web's 10 biggest howlers


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