The satirical website Dawn Wires recently posted an article titled "Saudi King to buy Facebook for $150 billion to end the revolt: Goldman Sachs to advise." It was filed under LoL News, and even concluded with the words "Sunday Humor." Despite this, tens of thousands of Internet users and some mainstream media fell for the fake news story.
Unfortunately, various publications in the Middle East and elsewhere took it as fact. Google marketing manager and political activist Wael Ghonim, who played an active role in the revolution in Egypt, posted the following on his Twitter account: "Egyptian mainstream media is reporting this http://bit.ly/dRxCu1 as real news. Some journalists need some serious training!" Publications such as the Tehran Times took it even further:
Most analysts believe that Zuckerberg will not take the offer and will wait for King Abdullah to up the offer to at least $500 billion. In the meanwhile king Abdullah has now logged on the Facebook and was busy profiling some of the models in the Goldman Sachs presentation.
Here's an excerpt of the initial joke report:
Left with no option, Abdullah advised by Goldman Sachs has decided to buy out Facebook and "clean out the weeds". The offer on the table is $150 billion. Facebook balance sheet was shown to King Abdullah and his kingdom advisors had mentioned that it is not even worth $1 billion given that it generates no profit. But the King threw the report into the dustbin and fired his advisors and decided to hand over the investment banking mandate to Goldman Sachs who put the value at $150 billion. The deal will be all cash.
To those with English as their first language, it's rather obvious that this is all made up. If only automatic translation services could detect satire!