“Journalists Beware: Shell Arctic Hoax Signals Move from Subtle Spin to Activist Deception”

Poynter.Org reports on how hoaxes have recently been getting especially elaborate and effective at duping journalists. At least one mainstream organization — Greenpeace — has used one recently as part of its own ideological campaign.

As if journalists weren’t already confounded enough by the misdirection of spin machines and talking points, they now risk being duped by publicity campaigns using blatant hoaxes.

Consider this video posted to YouTube in June, purporting to show an unauthorized taping of a Shell corporate party celebrating its newest Arctic oil rigs. The event goes horribly wrong when a miniature oil well drink dispenser has an uncontrolled blowout all over the guest of honor.

The event falls apart. The videographer is ushered out by security, reinforcing the impression that this was a huge spontaneous embarrassment to the oil company and giving fuel to a #shellfail meme that spread the video around the Web.

Just one problem: None of it is true.

It was the beginning of an elaborate hoax by Greenpeace and a group called the Yes Men.

Not only was the video fake, but journalists who wrote about the video received followup emails (also fake) from “Shell” calling the video a hoax and directing them to a company website. But that Arctic Ready website, it turns out, was yet another hoax.

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