How to Create Viral Internet Hoax: Find a Pretty Girl, Make-Up Populist Story
August 11, 2010
(ChattahBox)—The blogosphere was enamored yesterday, with a faux tale told by a pretty girl named “Jenny” on a photo series of messages scribbled on a white board, emailed to coworkers. What was the story? Pretty girl tells jerk of a boss named “Spencer” to take this job and shove it, via white board, while outing Spencer’s obsession with Farmville and mocking the sexist HOPA (Hot piece of ass) acronym. The story and photos quickly went viral, with a Jenny Facebook fan page drawing one million members. But it was all a big, fat hoax dreamed up by two brothers known for their Internet pranks. Jenny “DryErase Board Girl” is a professional actress named Elyse Porterfield. And the two prankster brothers, John and Leo Resig own the comedy website, the Chive.com, billed as “probably the best site in the world.” Why did the Resig brothers do it? Just for the hell of it. And to see if they could make a fake story go viral and totally hoodwink the media in the process. Hooray for the Resig brothers? Apparently, people will believe anything. Who knew?
John Resig, told hoodwinkee TechCrunch that the “DryErase Board Girl” hoax was brainstormed in a bar on a napkin. The hoax was engineered purely for entertainment purposes, claims Resig, and not to draw users to his website. Uh, huh.
“We didn’t do this for the media. I’d did it almost to prove to myself that I had it in me, to make something go viral at 4:30 in the morning before the world wakes up. You get a pure thrill of watching your site go from 15,000 uniques to 440,000 uniques in a single hour, watching yourself sucker every site from a-z who didn’t do their backstory,” said Resig.
Why was the “DryErase Board Girl” hoax so successful? Besides the novelty of a pretty girl, who resembles actress Angelina Jolie, it was a story that nine-to-five cubicle slaves could relate to:
“We came up with a hoax that was completely relatable. It wasn’t spread by TechCrunch and Reddit. It was spread by Facebook and inter-office email. Everyone wants to quit their jobs like this,“ added Resig.
This is not the first time the Resig brothers engineered an Internet hoax. The pair previously fabricated the widely-reported fake story of Donald Trump leaving a $10,000 tip and the tale of a teen alerting her father via text message that she was no longer a virgin.
So, the moral of this story? Entertainment and real news have become so blurred in our hourly Internet news cycle, the fact that a story isn’t true, no longer seems to matter.