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How I turned “Street Sharks” into an online social experiment (geek.com)
238 points by danso on May 27, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 109 comments



I don't think it's the internet's fault. In 1941 a couple of friends made a few phone calls to newspaper sports desks and concocted a college football team:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/16/sports/ncaafootball/the-41...


In Tampa we have an annual celebration each year, in the style of New Orlean's Mardi Gras, of the notorious pirate José Gaspar capturing the city more than a century ago. Of course its all made-up nonsense. None of it ever happened. We still have a great party for it.


The National Baseball Hall of Fame is located in Cooperstown, NY, a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. Cooperstown was chosen because a man named Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown in 1839. A baseball field, Doubleday Field, stands on the exact location where baseball was invented.

Of course, that is a totally made up story.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doubleday_myth


Yes, was certainly possible to dupe people in this way before the Internet. This Wikipedia page contains some relevant examples:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fictitious_entry

As a side note, it'd be funny if one of the stories on that page turned out to be made up.


The point isn't that this is uniquely a product of the internet; it's that the internet (and the other features of the Information Age in general) magnify our ability to propagate inaccuracies, fruth-y myths, and blatant falsehoods faster, more widely, and more convincingly than ever before.


In 1910, a delegation of Abyssinian royals was given an official tour of the HMS Dreadnought[1]. The delegation was comprised of Virginia Woolf with a glued on beard, Horace de Vere Cole, and other members of the Bloomsbury Group.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreadnought_hoax


There was an article a couple days ago about why everyone believes Columbus proved the world was round[1], even though that isn't true[2]:

    The real myth of the medieval flat earth begins first 
    in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and has 
    two principal sources. Probably the most influential 
    of these was the American author Washington Irving 
    who in his fictional biography of Columbus claimed 
    that Columbus had to fight against the Church’s 
    belief that the world was flat in order to get 
    permission and backing for his voyage, a complete 
    fabrication. 
I see an interesting parallel between the two cases. When you're the most influential person talking about something (or the only person at all...), people who later want to learn about the subject treat you as the best available authority, even if you're a bad one. Information is copied from authorities and self-reinforcing over time, much like genes in a population. What that means is when there's a bottleneck in the number of people talking about a topic, you can see a founder effect[3].

[1]https://thonyc.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/repeat-after-me-they...

[2]That Columbus proved it, that is, not that the world is round.

[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founder_effect


Of the many sources to demonstrate that it was well known that the Earth was round, I like Dante the best: His Divine Comedy explicitly described the world as spherical, described how that meant different parts had day and night at different times, described how the stars would be different, etc.. It's not a very early source - there are many earlier ones -, but his level of detail shows that it was well understood what it meant and that the idea could be published in a work dealing with religion without controversy in the middle of Europe.


I know this is pitched as an experiment about the internet, but I think it is an even more telling experiment about the malleability of human memory.


I'm still wondering if its really the malleability of human memory or our need to fit in / social pressure to conform ?


A little from column A and a little from column B.

I have young kids and it's fascinating watching them talk about half-remembered stuff from the past. They'll start off not really remembering much and taking guesses. Then the other takes that guess as gospel and repeats it back. Now the first has more confident. Soon they are both fully convinced of a whole pile of fabrications.

It made me realize how much of our memory is socially constructed.


Not sure I understand. Isn't memory of experience different than our believing it ?

Or is it something like there isn't "truth" in our memory ?


Excellent question, and the answer is that human memory is generally highly fallible, malleable, and unreliable.

We all have the naive impression that memory is somehow like a video recording and we can just access it to find out what happened. Indeed, we all have some very vivid and probably quite accurate memories about some exceptional events, or can recall exactly what page and what part of the page we read some specific item. There area also examples of amazing memory stunts and records, and even memory contests and championships.

But we cannot assume that just because we have some very good memories, memory is generally good, indeed, it is mostly pretty bad, especially compared to any kind of recording system.

This is supported by several areas of research demonstrating how easy it is to plant fake memories, reshape memories, and get people to be completely convinced that they are describing are exact and real.

One area of research is eyewitness testimony, which has pretty much been the standard in courts since courts existed, yet when eyewitness accounts are compared, they almost always come up with a variety of contradictions.

There's also been research into the phenomena of "found" or "recovered" memories often used to convict accused child abusers. Again, it turns out that suggestion and guidance on the part of the investigator can create things our or whole cloth, so it must be very carefully guarded against.

There's also several other research areas in which this is relevant, but the outcome is pretty consistent -- human memory is generally pretty bad (sorry I haven't got the time to track down the references).

I've found that it's best to just treat memory as merely a good hint about what might have happened (or where I might have left that tool or the keys), and then look for actual evidence of what really happened.


Also the "Mandela Effect".

For example I, as well as many others on the Internet, remember the James Bond Semi-Villain Jaws's romantic interest as being a blond, pig tailed, bespectacled girl with a large smile and a mouth full of braces. We're sure she had braces, that was the whole joke! Turns out, no record of her having braces whatsoever.

Weird that a memory could permeate society like that.

edit: https://www.reddit.com/r/MandelaEffect/comments/3vzk53/my_ma...


It seems that our memory isn't like photos or videos - isn't recorded directly - but rather it's procedurally generated - when you access a particular memory, some the brain simulates a lot of stuff based not just on the "seed" of that particular memory, but also everything else you've experienced since. This way, future experiences can significantly change what you recall, which leads to fun experiments (and not so fun issues with eye witness reports).

A completely made-up example: imagine that you saw a colored circle. Instead of storing a snapshot of what you saw, your brain really records two things - that you saw a "circle", and that it was of your "favourite color". Many years later, you recall that memory, and "see" a blue circle. But in reality, the circle was yellow - over those years, your favourite color has changed, and since the memory stores reference to it, your recollection also changed.


Even when talking brains and memories, we still can't get away from pointers and references, huh?

I've never heard this explanation for such a phenomenon. Quite interesting.

When I remember something, or when I purposefully recall a memory, it is very easy for me to change the details on purpose even as I am thinking the thing. It is also possible to create wholly false but entirely plausible recollections (for example, "remembering" having sex with a past girlfriend in a time or at a place which we never had sex, but because we spent so much time together, I have good baseline data to produce all the most pertinent details, and my mind doesn't care about glossing over the things which are fabricated.)

It's scary to think about. I am capable of consciously replaying totally false memories, so how often are the things which I remember a product of an unconscious version of the same process? How fallible is my memory really?


> Even when talking brains and memories, we still can't get away from pointers and references, huh?

That's because they're good models of a fundamental concept of indirection :). People sometimes think it's hubris that programmers tend to talk a lot about fields they "know nothing about", but part of it really comes from the fact that programming is dealing with one of the most powerful abstract concept ever devised - that of computation.

> It's scary to think about. I am capable of consciously replaying totally false memories, so how often are the things which I remember a product of an unconscious version of the same process? How fallible is my memory really?

Yeah, it is scary, though one gets used to it. Experience shows that most of the time at least your recent memories are pretty robust. There's a lot of context ensuring the consistency and accuracy of the "procedural recollection" of a memory, but it's procedural generation nonetheless.

EDIT: want another fun programming analogy? Think about how fast you can answer questions you've already heard and thought about vs. ones that are new to you. You may come to the conclusion that the brain is mostly a massive cache, and most thoughts being cache lookups. You know the concept of "speaking before you think"? For me that sometimes happens literally, and it really smells like a partial pattern-match to a question doing a cache lookup in the brain.

And now add to this that it's been estimated that the brain itself is clocked around 200Hz (Hertz, without SI prefix) of sequential computation speed...


O remember seeing a documentary about memory where they would show kids fake photoshopped images of trips they'd never done, and then the kids would "create" those memories like that had happened and also adding more details to the fake story


Or, indeed, if the latter affects the former.


This was something Orwell played upon in 1984. The internet would have made Winston Smith's job infinitely easier.


I honestly don't understand the animosity towards the author.

I consider this sort of mischief to be a healthy thing. If you are exposed to true facts constantly, all facts are true, in the same way that a TSA X-ray tech who sees ten thousand not-bombs might miss the one actual bomb.

I think of lies and disinformation as good for a mental agility, and an adjunct of storytelling. Is there no space for the trickster in our lives?


If you're referring to my comment and the tree under that, there isn't any animosity whatsoever, just a lack of respect for the notion that the author's own mischief is somehow a sign of how the Internet isn't capable of representing truths, which is absurd.


Pranks and studying how unsourced information spreads is fine, the "history is meaningless on the internet" claim is probably what people are reacting to.

A lot of mystics use the argument, "because you can be fool here, truth itself does not exist" and sometimes that can be fairly harmful.


To those who are questioning how much truth the 'confession' has in it, you are definitely getting in the spirit of things.

The confession is sort of a buzzfeed-ish version of Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, and he digs in, at length musing on lies and truth and how they mush together in ways that are very hard to untangle.

At any rate, if you liked the essay, I recommend the book.


In my opinion, this prank is very intricate and took a lot of effort while not actually proving the point that "history is meaningless on the internet" because the subject matter - the Street Sharks - are/were essentially forgotten by history itself. Sometimes things just naturally slide away and nobody cares. It's like, "What year did the black Power Ranger turn good?" or "What was the top selling Rock band in the years 1975-1983?" and then making up an answer because, well, it's not really pertinent stuff. There are much better cons online, I like to think...edit...even if this is some kind of meta-joke where it turns out all the fake parts are being faked...sigh...


Well, if the author's intent was some sort of meta-joke about hot "everyone reports on everyone else’s reporting," it seems to be working, as other sources are reporting on it:

http://screencrush.com/street-sharks-hoax/

http://www.vox.com/2016/5/27/11788884/street-sharks-hoax

http://www.avclub.com/article/read-utterly-fraudulent-altern...

http://gawker.com/everything-i-ever-thought-i-knew-about-str...


> "What year did the black Power Ranger turn good?"

Was the black power ranger ever bad? I recall the green ranger going bad, then later returning, reformed, as the white ranger.

Or was mixing up the colors intentional to further your point?


The episode was Season 5 Episode 14 "Once You Go Black, You Never Go Back".

In the season finale, Zack absorbs Rita's evil power crystal and turns on the Power Rangers and Angel Grove. Zordon informs the Power Rangers of a secret cave containing the reversal crystal, but Rita and her Octopig monster have other plans. Can the Power Rangers morph in time to save Zack and Angel Grove?


> "Once You Go Black, You Never Go Back"

I lol'd. Too over the top though.


Honestly I don't really remember and was just trying to throw out a subjective memory example. Black, Green, whatever. If it helped make my point I can say it was unintentional!


That's great. I love how myths can still be created and spread in this Internet age.

Another example : around 2005 someone made a playlist for himself of some Mars Volta b-sides and called it "A Missing Chromosome" [1]. Somehow it spread on P2P networks, was even listed on Wikipedia in the band's discography section with a back story etc.

I still have it in my collection under that name with the art etc and don't see the need to correct it.

A forum I'm in maintains a list of some fake things they put in Wikipedia. It's harder to do these days but some are still there and we joke that some parts may have found their way in some student school work.

1. http://forum.thecomatorium.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=105...


Consider the Slender Man story, which was concocted more-or-less whole-cloth on Somethingawful.com's fora. Two young people stabbed a third ostensibly to sacrifice her to this character, and one of the editors of somethingawful.com posted an article [http://www.somethingawful.com/news/slenderman-not-real/] reminding people that the story was 100% fabrication.


What surprised me the most was people willing to go along with a lie. Human memory is a pretty faulty and malleable thing, but this level of confusion as was cited at one point in the article? I think it requires someone to be either consciously lying or have utter disregard to the value of what they're saying. It's one thing to repeat a lie because you didn't know the information wasn't true (though I'd consider providing confidence estimates on information you repeat as a basic human decency); it's something else entirely to repackage the lie and sell it as something you vouch for personally. These people are bullshit amplifiers.


Information that's mostly true with a few lies thrown in is very hard to verify. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trap_street


Fair enough, but posting that you have a movie that never existed recorded on tape because you presumably liked it so much - that's a completely different thing. That people are willing to do this - for what? Internet points? - saddens me deeply.


Back in the early days of the IMDB, and before they got strict with verification, my brother uploaded information and credits for his high school movie assignments, which I had 'acted' in.

A Google search for my real name still returns my IMDB actors page as one of the top links.


I can't help but read this like:

    Let me show you how dangerous sidewalks are
    by telling you the story about the time I
    went for a walk while swinging a spiked bat
    at every passer by. It was great fun, but it
    demonstrates why sidewalks are dangerous.


No. It's more like he was swinging a foam bat and is warning us how easy it would be for someone more malicious to swing a spiked bat.

Seriously, I don't really care if some teenager creates a non-sense fanfic world on poorly monitored sites.

However, it is noteworthy how the utter lack of quality control on so many Internet properties can propagate falsehoods.

This undermines the claim that the Internet was supposed to be this "Information Superhighway" (lol, remember that term?) leading to a more informed society.

This just hasn't panned out the way the tech utopians of the 90s thought it would. What they failed to foresee is that the abundance of information can lead to just as much ignorance as the lack of information.


I think the problems you're bringing up cannot be solved.

Information (re: "Information Superhighway") is information. In this utopian idea of "quality control", who does the quality control? Houghton Mifflin[1]?

If history is just a set of lies agreed upon[2], I'd rather have the consensus of the Internet than whoever it is you purport should be in control of quality.

1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/09/...

2. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/napoleonbo161968....


Not necessarily. The key problem is that primary sources are either in non-searchable hardcopy format (books, etc.) or inaccessible behind paywalls, making it impractical to do wide-ranging research outside of the academic libraries maintained by by large universities.

It would take quite a major revision to copyright law but it's not impossible to imagine some future version of a library where one can search digitized versions of all known works and correlate between them.


What are you talking about "cannot be solved"?

Per the article "The only place that’s still entirely accurate is Wikipedia, hilariously enough." And for tvtome, "It was a user-edited wiki for TV shows. To be an editor for the big, popular shows you had to prove why you were qualified"

Clearly there are systems that are much more robust against tampering than others. I'm sure dozens or hundreds of people came across this streets shark stuff on IMDB and thought "This is an error" but had no way to report it on IMDB. Wikipedia solves that problem (and in the event of dispute there's a full history).


> However, it is noteworthy how the utter lack of quality control on so many Internet properties can propagate falsehoods.

It's not a "lack of quality control". It's that the internet is data-starved. I'm familiar with how much data is recorded each year, and it seems paradoxical that we could still be data-starved, but it is so.

Starving people/organizations ignore all the warning signs. They're desperate for what it is that they seek. The people looking for this bit of nostalgia want to be able to find information on it. Synopses, screenshots, and even videos. For these people, there aren't any substitutes. And the internet just doesn't have much on it (not like some Encyclopedia Britannica editor will have spent 18 months tracking down real information on this show).

Adding more quality control won't fix this, as the root cause wasn't lack of quality control. Attempting to do so will backfire, those people desperate for this will merely go out and create their own websites to hunt down the dreck that doesn't pass QC, and once they host it on a blog or whatever it will leak back into the higher quality sites (like has happened on IMDB in this article).


If anything, Internet has AMAZING quality control, because any error has potential to be spotted by millions. Right this second there is absolutely nothing stopping me from publishing my own encyclopedia in print with random facts changed to my liking. It would just cost me money to get it printed, but it's not like it could get banned(imagine that!).


If it was just "there are lies on the Internet - I just posted some!" Then yeah. To me this story is more how they propagate. Who knew Netflix didn't get their metadata from the production company itself?


Let's say Netflix asks the production company for the cast. DIC Entertainment went defunct 7 years ago. Let's say they were still around though. Would someone there have to dig through physical filing cabinets? Or would they just google it?

Bottom line: Henry Winkler voicing a shark as a meta-jumped-the-shark reference is brilliant.


My guess is that they're filled in by low-paid (or unpaid) interns.

I'm especially wary of anything that has even a touch of marketing involved with it. Especially on social media. You know how all those photos with words are made - be it dietary advice or philosophy quotes or whatever? I had some ideas, but wasn't really sure until my SO did an internship with a social media marketing company.

It's literally: 1) Google for some keywords on the topic you need, 2) take the first article or blog post that pops up, 3) find a good enough quote or idea on it, 4) pick a random picture from the Internet, 5) stick the two together in Photoshop or Paint.NET, 6) spam the living shit out of all your channels with it.

It's that. Zero research. And preferably done by unpaid interns.


I don't think "be wary of lies on the Internet" was the message, more "I did a funny thing and the Internet is dumb sometimes" - I was in tears laughing at some of the stupid episode summaries. And the irony that free-for-all Wikipedia was the only accurate source was pretty good too


Likely because the people who wrote the Wikipedia article actually watched the episodes or were fans of the show.

The other places just copied the information from whatever source they had available, which happened to be from tvtome.com.


How many articles have had the premise "You can't trust wikipedia, because it's full of lies! Why, just look at this handful of lies I've put on there!"


But that's not what this is, really. It points out the greater danger of the propagation of those lies. It's entirely reasonable to assume others might similarly lie and this article demonstrates how such lies can propagate through the internet in certain cases.


Yes, but his point would be much stronger if it had not been based merely on assumptions. If this is such a problem, then be a journalist- find an example and discuss that.


But, he was the example.


I mean, find an example of the problem, instead of creating a problem, and assuming it's widespread.


Ironically, Wikipedia seems to be the only place you can actually trust about Street Sharks...


But this isn't about someone editing Wikipedia, and saying "look at Wikipedia".

This is about someone editing some minor little website, and then a bunch of companies and other websites copying that information, and then other people saying that information is true and accurate, and even expanding on it with their own memories about the misinformation.

That's the scary thing - that people build on the lie.

I might not trust that little website, but I should be able to trust Netflix.


The difference is these lies survived for years and were repurposed all the while no one actually bothered to verify them.


Yeah and why would anyone bother?


I see what you're getting at. I'm reminded of the discussion and debate around the Rosenhan experiment[0].

That said, I think your analogy isn't quite on point. The noteworthy thing here isn't just that it's possible to lie on the internet -- people have clearly been doing that for a while. What's interesting here is that those lies, while not at the time intended as an experiment, have still demonstrated how perniciously they can become a part of what is becoming our collective memory and record of truth.

We already know that our memories are malleable, fuzzy, adaptive, and often downright wrong. It's interesting to see how this relates to the possibility that lies, or untruths, take on a life of their own online, and can serve to mold our own recollections.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenhan_experiment


And considering the respectable sources have since corrected his misinformation, tack on a: "That neighborhood is now better policed, but still, you never know!"


Can't find any fault with the argument.

If he did that for fun, tons of others can do it for fan, more with malicious intent, even more for profit, even more than those from idiocy and repeating misinformation, etc.


And many do. Remember that "I rm -rf'd my production server" story recently, and how it turned out to be a lie? Remember that "school treats a kid as a terrorist because he brought a DIY clock to class" thing that after weeks of media coverage turned out to be a completely different story?


Exactly.

Though, about the latter story (kid, clock etc.) I've followed it a little at the time, but what do you mean "turned out to be a completely different story"? From what I know it was like what it was reported from the start. And Obama even called the kid to the whitehouse later. Am I missing some development?


It's going to be a much bigger problem in the future.

I looked at the descriptions for the three shows. Frankly, nothing seemed out-of-line because I didn't watch toy-oriented cartoons in the 90s and that subject matter falls into a genre I just don't care about. Truthfully, I suspect that those synopses pretty much describe all 90s cartoons.

For that matter, your entire article could be a social experiment, but the subject matter of Street Sharks is so far off the spectrum of things I care about that it's the first time I've ever even heard of them.

But, it does illustrate how easy it is to slip things in like that. Do it enough times with lots of small things and sooner or later, you have enough evidence for something larger and so on and so forth.

Still don't care about Street Sharks, though.

And please, for the love of <deity>, don't show this to Michael Bay.


None of this is the author's fault. The initial lie was meant as harmless fun, the fact that so many (largely highly regarded) media properties went and spewed it out as fact later on is the real problem. I mean how many times a week do we hear about Old Big Media retweeting nonsense or publishing Onion articles?

News sources these days are so programmed to chase every story that there's no room for fact checking and they all look like incredible idiots. It's amazing to me that anyone takes Old Media seriously anymore.


What news sources do you use? What is New Media?


Doesn't matter. Pretty much everyone knows most of media publishing is bullshit. After N+1th comment thread debunking a news article I'd thought at least everyone on HN understands that implicitly now. But quite many people agree and then immediately forget about it when the next story hits.

On-line news publishers don't care about accuracy or truth. Period.


I wouldn't say there's a singular answer to that question, it's a combination of multiple sources and social media driven sources. None of them are particularly good, and none of them are infallible even slightly, it's about checking.

Plus a good old fashioned bullshit filter.


I have done something less malicious, but right around the same time.

When I was in NYU's grad math program, the Wikipedia just getting going. It had a lot of articles, but not on every topic. I was studying Analysis and decided to start the article on the Hessian Matrix.

Yes, I started that article and it's been fun to watch it grow over the years. Most sections I have added are still there, as well as some phrases such as "more can be said from the point of view of Morse Theory". It really set the direction of the subsequent topics and edits.

One section in particular, there, was completely made up by me. It was ACTUALLY TRUE, but it was never (to my knowledge) stated anywhere. No one had really made a treatment of the matter. Namely:

Hessians of vector valued functions. I said they were tensors of rank 3.

There was a discussion in the talk page about it. Some people were confused and argued for a bit but since was true, the community kept it, thinking that being a true math concept it must have a source somewhere. Now it has been expanded and an actual analysis of how it can be a tensor of rank 3 has been worked out. Now this may have led to citations that will lead to research on Hessians of vector valued functions acting as tensors. All because I wrote it there.

It wasn't false, like the Colbert's lie that "Elephant population of Africa has tripled in the last six months." But it was an experiment to see what an unsourced original statement would lead to on a fairly mainstream article.


I think Rox->Roxie is a pretty plausible confusion even without "malicious" interference, so I'm not sure those parts prove anything.


The actual Rox was a human, though, not a female Street Shark as the author described her and people are claiming to remember her.

Edit: to be fair, I'm trusting the author's current account, I never watched Street Sharks myself. I could be the victim of some epic meta trolling.


IMHO I think it was the fact that the show was so obscure and lacked enough popularity to actually motivate people to bother validating it. If it was a much more popular show, say The Big Bang Theory, there would be enough knowledgable people to catch the falsities.


I have done very similar stuff to Wikipedia for almost ten years now. It is astonishingly easy to make specious claims in backwater articles that no one cares about. It is pretty insane what happens to the articles afterwards. For example, on one article, someone else has made a couple of edits adding even more lies to my completely invented claims! Another "subtle vandal" (as I call myself)! I never expected that. And when someone else edits your false information for clarity, or whatever, it's as good as gold. One trick I use to encourage that is to make minor grammatical or spelling errors. If a human doesn't lumber by to edit (and then seal into fact) my bullshit information, usually an automated bot will eventually do the same thing. It's very important not to make your information sound too trite or wild. Most Wikipedia editors take everything with a big grain of salt the last few years.


Truth is such a slippery concept. How easy it was to create by a school kid, and how organically it grew over time despite being entirely made up. Imagine how much better people with professional tools and desire can generate much more harmful information than fake Henry Winkler appearances.


A while back, I forget who, but someone tracked down some false facts that were supported by circular references in Wikipedia.

Wikipedia doesn't allow you to cite Wikipedia, of course, but the trickster added an unsupported, false fact to Wikipedia, which was quoted by someone's blog, which was quoted in an article by a "science" "journalist", and then the trickster updated the Wikipedia page to reference that article.

I think it's important to take note that this can happen instead of dismissing it as childish pranks. We should apply the "security mindset" to our sources of information, not just to our computation.


Maybe you remember https://xkcd.com/978/


Good point. It's clearly based on a real thing, too.


Good point. However, he does touch on the fact that since the information was so trivial, not many people cared to vet its validity. Hopefully, people would be more critical of "harmful" information.

"We form rough consensuses based on vast amounts of conflicting data, but who really has the power to verify any of it? This is especially true when the stakes are low. A lot of people will put effort into dispelling rumors that the Moon landing was fake or that Hitler is still alive, sure, but who cares enough about something as meaningless and easy to ignore as Street Sharks to make sure all the information about it online is totally accurate?"


A little scary what this implies about groups of people with axes to grind on places like wikipedia.


It's why the wikipages on hot button issues that special interests care passionately about (Scientology, Abortion, etc) are so heavily moderated.


But who moderates the moderators ?

In this article, the author mentioned he became an editor for street sharks to help him spread his lies.


What I think is most interesting is the people who all claim to "remember" these lies. Are they knowingly claiming to remember something they never saw to appear more knowledgeable or is their memory shaped by these lies they read? The latter is scarier.


For those blaming the guy, and not the system / sites.

If Obama used the fake fact in a speech of his, would you blame his researchers or the guy who originally made up the lie?

I think the point is that authorities on information have a responsibility to ensure the information is accurate.


How deep you go for checking the fact ? Ultimately you always need to depends on someone/something else.


"I’m living in an ontological nightmare of my own making. It’s jawsome!"

Had me in tears. Also, I completely forgot about that show until coming across this so thanks for bring back some history!


This is a jawesome playbook of how "facts 2.0" get created.


I was hoping this would reference the Berenstain Bears thing. I thought that was stupid because someone was obviously introducing a psychological impression when creating the theory.


The idea that lies and misinformation can spread quickly and widely on the internet is proven almost daily. If you've ever seen a onion or any other satirical website post a story and then get shared liked, commented on, restated and then its like wait did none of you 60-70 ppl realize the article was fake?


Reminds me of the tale of Slow Blind Driveway, which if I recall correctly was the longest running hoax ever on Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:List_of_hoaxes_on_Wi...

And of the fingerboxes meme on 4chan.


This reminds me of the time some fangirl invented an entire season of Inspector Gadget with her fan character in a prominent role as a love interest for Gadget -- and tried to pass it off as if it really happened, replete with faked screenshots of Gadget and her invention. The IG fan community actually took the bait for a while before she was outed.



What if this article was the social experiment. Did anyone verify any of the claims that he had even actually lied. Maybe he is fabricating a story about fabrication? I know I didn't verify. But don't fall into his sneaky trap again(or perhaps the first time).


More like, "I used lies about a cartoon to convince some people online that history is meaningless on the internet." Nothing was proved, and I wonder how long that deception lasted. Edit: Title has since been changed.


It's interesting that in this case the misinformation can readily be proven false. What method is there to identify incorrect information when no primary source exists? How much trusted information can never be verified?


No one has mentioned the 2016 Election and the fabrication of stories from the front runners of both parties. History and memory are not being erased, just overwritten with new "facts".


This seems like an interesting article. However, the large advertisement on the screen covering the entire viewport with no 'close' button makes reading it a real challenge.


You need a better ad blocker.


think about how much worse it was before the internet


One word applies: JAWSOME!!!


The fact that people have blindly accepted them as false is subtlety proving his point about history on the internet.

the fact that you do not understand that people simply do not care about street sharks does not make his premise intelligent or thought provoking.


So, you lied, but it's someone else's fault?

After all, what kind of person would intentionally sow lies about Street Sharks across the internet?

Well, not a good one.


Meh. I see this more as god-tier trolling. We have no way to easily tell if this piece is a total lie or a long delayed admission of truth. I'm certainly not ever going to research this to determine if it is valid. And that is what makes the troll god-tier. The nugget of truth he alludes to is then instantly suspect for everything now. Though I may forget that the internet of made up of dogs impersonating people from time to time, upon reflection I will remember the Street Sharks guy and be brought back to the 'center'; that everything on the net is a lie. The commentary on epistemology and nihilism aside, this guy is a god-tier troll. Soberly, I'll never trust a thing on here again.


Grandparent probably doesn't consider trolls to be "good people". Of course, with the wisdom of experience one finds that trolling is just another form of rhetoric, neither "good" nor "bad". Good people will troll us to the truth at least as often as bad people will troll us to butthurt.


Liars, not trolls. I mean I guess there's overlap but it's the lying I'm calling out. The author seems continually surprised and concerned that people would believe lies about history, but that's not new or surprising or even interesting. In fact that's why we each have a responsibility to tell the truth.


Everyone who communicates, lies. One who doesn't expect that, won't be able to make much sense of the world. It's not useful to draw bright lines around the category of "lies". It would be pretty awful to lie to your boyfriend about whether you had an STD, or to your kid about the existence of imaginary holiday characters. Making up shit about some forgotten TV show just ain't the same thing.

The best trolling may not be precisely lying, but it's certainly more about assuming alternate versions of reality than it is about e.g. just being rude.


> It would be pretty awful to lie [...] to your kid about the existence of imaginary holiday characters

True. But people do it, regularly and consistently, and in fact protect their children from finding out about said lies, with ever more complex mechanisms. But, strangely, most people who do this seem to think it's a good thing to lie like this. Not sure why, and I suspect it sets a bad example to children that adults are not to be trusted, as they make things up. And that it is OK to do it, since there are no bad consequences for the adults, so why not lie themselves?


Are you around kids much? They certainly don't need any encouragement to lie!

It has long been my policy to tell my young nieces and nephews really obvious lies on a regular basis, just to let them practice their critical thinking. I love the looks of dawning realization and the swiftly following cries of "nuh-uh!" My oldest niece has heard enough of these that she just smirks when she hears another one.

Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are sort of an internal critique of Christianity. Sadly I think this critique goes over most people's heads, and their eventual disillusionment is more upsetting as a result. Still, parents have to try. To give away the game, I don't actually think there's anything wrong with this particular lie.


I get that, and I'm not really upset about this particular lie. But the author tries to generalize this to "history is malleable now that it's online", and I just don't think it does generalize. Because as you said, people are going to distrust sketchy sources for information that's more important.


I think it serves as a good. Society definitely needs to place an accurate value on information sources. Currently, there's so much information available that "bad sources" push "good sources" out by cost/quantity.


Eh. Not exactly an honest thing to do, but I'd wager less harm has come from that lie than would come from people not being aware of how easily incorrect information propagates and gains credibility on the Internet. The ends are good, despite questionable (and unintentional means).




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