The five biggest hoaxes of 2013

Manti Te'o was talking to a man, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, on the phone during the hoax.
Manti Te’o was talking to a man, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, on the phone during the hoax.

Social media allows us to stay connected, meet new people and get information at lightning speed, but it also makes it that much easier to get punked. Thankfully, it also makes it easier for people to get caught. 2013 was filled with hoaxes, from Jimmy Kimmel’s fake “Twerking FAIL” video to news stories about a “Full House” sequel and Miley Cyrus’ supposed pregnancy. Here are our top five picks for the biggest hoaxes of 2013:

1. Manti Te’o's girlfriend: It was one of the most heartbreaking stories of college football history. Manti Te’o, a star linebacker for Notre Dame, managed to play a strong season despite the fact that his grandmother and girlfriend both died in September 2012. The grandmother story checked out, but reporters at Deadspin discovered in January that Te’o's girlfriend Lennay Kekua did not exist. Te’o admitted he never met her and said he had been catfished. The story is still murky, but Te’o's doing just fine now: He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers this year.

dayna morales receipt
Server Dayna Morales caused a stir on the Internet after she posted this homophobic note she allegedly received from a customer.
Credit: Facebook / Have a Gay Day

2. Homophobic no-tip scam: Thousands of people sent waitress Dayna Morales money after she sent a shocking letter to website “Have a Gay Day.” She wrote that a homophobic customer had stiffed her of a tip and written on the check, “Sorry I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle & the way you live your life.” But the customer in question showed local news outlets her credit card statement to show that she had in fact tipped on top of the bill, and though Morales never said she lied, she did return her donations.

Thomas Bakkila, center, is the man behind Twitter account @Horse_ebooks. He answered phones on Tuesday and spouted bits of spam to callers.  Credit: Jacob Bakkila
Thomas Bakkila, center, is the man behind Twitter account @Horse_ebooks. He answered phones on Tuesday and spouted bits of spam to callers.
Credit: Jacob Bakkila

3. @Horse_ebooks: RIP @horse_ebooks. The immensely popular Twitter account was one that kept its followers guessing for years. No one was sure if it was a spambot account, or if there was a human behind the cryptic messages. In a dramatic climax, Jacob Bakkila, a creative director at BuzzFeed, revealed that he had been tweeting from the account since 2011 as part of a performance art project.

elan gale
“The Bachelor” producer Elan Gale is still laughing after he pulled off his Diane in 7A hoax. He tweeted on Wednesday that this face mask was a gift from Diane.
Credit: Twitter / theyearofelan

4. Diane in 7A: The saga of Elan Gale and Diane in 7A was one of the greatest stories that unfolded over Thanksgiving weekend. Gale, a producer for “The Bachelor,” live-tweeted a passive-aggressive, then just plain aggressive, confrontation that unfolded over the course of a delayed flight home. Gale revealed later on his Twitter that Diane wasn’t real.

Thamsanqa Jantjie, 34, sparked outrage after he was seen making meaningless gestures during Nelson Mandela's memorial.
Thamsanqa Jantjie, 34, sparked outrage after he was seen making meaningless gestures during Nelson Mandela’s memorial.
Credit: Reuters

5. Sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service: This one still hasn’t been proven a hoax, but Thamsanqa Jantjie stole the show at Madiba’s memorial service, and not in a good way. The sign language interpreter signed words like “prawn” and was denounced by Marlee Matlin on CNN and mocked on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Jantjie later claimed that he was hallucinating during the service and that he is schizophrenic. He was recently admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark


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