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The six best internet hoaxes

Web tricks that really had us fooled

The internet has long been a hoaxer's dream. We round-up six of the most recent and more elaborate hoaxes with one thing in common - they worked and they fooled plenty of people.

Metalosis Maligna

Once again, excellent special effects and a serious tone are sure to trick even savvy viewers. Slightly old now as the video was released over a year ago, the Metalosis Maligna documentary works on many levels. It holds the interests of techies, preys on our fear of technology and looks strikingly real.

Metalosis was described as "a disease which affects patients with medical implants". A pan-shot over various body implant parts and a low rumbling soundtrack just add to the potential for public hysteria. Like the Google TV hoax, the con also plays on our desire to learn about something new and under-reported, to be ‘in the know’ before the next guy.

The film uses well-designed graphics and interviews with seemingly knowledgeable experts and mirrors the documentary style of Michael Moore and others. A matching website at Metalosis.com, complete with Google ads and links to more information, carries the ruse even further.

Fake Steve Lawsuit

Fake Steve Jobs pulled a fake-lawsuit ploy just before the holiday break last year. A hoax within a hoax, that's a particularly dastardly con.

Fake Steve Jobs is a blog written by Daniel Lyons pretending to be Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and one of the best-known hoax sites around. Just before the Christmas holidays, the blog suddenly switched gears. Lyons seemed to break out of character, posting as himself to explain how he was being sued by Apple for disclosing private company information, and forum posts took on a increasingly empathetic tone on his behalf.

One of the reasons this hoax worked had to do with the timing. As tech workers were getting ready to pull their chairs back from their workstations for a long needed break, they clicked into a seemingly nefarious scandal. It worked because we partly want to see a rumble, and partly because we just can't stop reading blogs. When I met Lyons at CES this year, he said Apple would never sue him in a million years. I suspect the company will eventually ask him to stop impersonating its CEO.

Czech Nuclear Bomb

The explosion itself doesn't look realistic, but the ‘lower third’ (video titles to you and me) are convincing. Nuclear bombs aren't even remotely funny, but this hoax had a few unique attributes beyond a mildly well-done fake nuclear explosion. Hackers broke into a Czech weather station and transmitted what looked like a live video feed of the bomb exploding as the camera pans back and forth.

The transmission was then uploaded to YouTube.com, where it suddenly went viral, mostly on blog sites, since YouTube users pretty much debunked it right away. The hackers, who were participating in an art experiment, now face up to three years in prison for the stunt.

NEXT PAGE: Our final internet hoax involves making a bottle of Mountain Dew and some common household chemicals

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