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The six best internet hoaxes

Web tricks that really had us fooled

You've been had. Some geeky guy with a bad comb-over just convinced you to click 100 times on your Gmail account to somehow tap into a Google TV beta.

Like any good internet hoax, the guys who made the Google TV spoof knew that a sucker is born every minute - or maybe that's every second in internet time. It had all the hallmarks of a good con - a product or service that is hard to obtain yet highly desirable, a brand name that people trust, a quirky geek who seemed oblivious to the fact that he looks like the long-lost nephew of Bill Gates, and a viral video format.

Don’t worry, I fell for it too.

See also:

The 10 best technology hoax videos

Over the past year or so, several cons have appeared, some in video form,and a few blog hoaxes. In some ways, it's a disturbing trend because the internet doesn't need more inaccurate information to go along with the erroneous Wikipedia entries and opinionated blog postings.

There are plenty of older hoaxes that have received more than their share of publicity, but here are my top six recent ones. If I've missed your favourite internet hoax, be sure to let us know in the comments at the end of this story.

Google TV

Google TV was one of the best pranks of recent memory. So good in fact, we hate to even spoil it here. Mark Erickson is the geeky tech who explains how to tap into the Google TV beta. A few keen observers noted his wry smirk throughout the video, but the hoax had one other classic con element. It was so complicated and unusual that it seemed more real. You had to follow several detailed instructions and eventually click on the Gmail logo repeatedly until the Google TV beta link appeared.

Once subscribed, you could watch endless episodes of Prison Break without paying a dime, which is yet another incentive. What made this hoax even more interesting is that it spurred so many other related hoaxes, such as viewers showing how they made it work.

UFO Haiti

Two spaceships fly overhead in an ominous shakycam video. Like the monster movie Cloverfield, the Haiti spaceship video was a good con because the special effects looked realistic enough, but not so realistic that they looked like a Hollywood production.

The Los Angeles Times outed the French special effects guru who created the video, although 'Barzolff' (as they nicknamed him) was surprised by the intense reaction.

Interestingly, the video is actually a precursor to a full movie about how two guys make an internet hoax about UFOs and get into trouble for it.

NEXT PAGE: More superb internet hoaxes including the Metalosis Maligna documentary and fake Steve Jobs

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