Fake News: Area Grandmother Rose Biggin Did NOT Come Forward As 'Banksy'

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Area Grandmother Rose Biggin Did NOT Come Forward As 'Banksy'

Has Banksy's identity been revealed as Rose Biggin, 89 years old, of Camden Town in London? Nope, that's not true, it is just the latest in a string of fake Banksy identity revelation stories. The identity of the famous street artist remains as it should be, shrouded in mystery.

This particular version was published on March 28, 2018 by satirical website The Onion titled "Area Grandmother Comes Forward As 'Banksy'" (archived here) which opened:

LONDON--At a press conference Tuesday, 89-year-old Rose Biggin, a grandmother from the Camden Town neighborhood of North London, announced that she was in fact the internationally renowned graffiti artist known only as Banksy.

Fake news claiming to reveal the identity of Banksy is nothing new. The man most famous for doing that used to be Paul Horner. We covered it last time he pulled it off:

Fake News: Graffiti Artist Banksy NOT Arrested At Art Exhibit In Palestine; Identity NOT Revealed | Lead Stories

It seems like prolific fake news writer Paul Horner has come back from retirement, with several of his dormant sites springing back to life all publishing the same story titled "Graffiti Artist Banksy Arrested At Art Exhibit In Palestine; Identity Revealed".

Unfortunately Horner passed away about six months ago but he would probably have loved the idea of The Onion doing a twist on his signature hoax.

The Onion is one of the oldest and best known satire websites on the internet. Their about page claims:

The Onion is the world's leading news publication, offering highly acclaimed, universally revered coverage of breaking national, international, and local news events. Rising from its humble beginnings as a print newspaper in 1756, The Onion now enjoys a daily readership of 4.3 trillion and has grown into the single most powerful and influential organization in human history.

In addition to maintaining a towering standard of excellence to which the rest of the industry aspires, The Onion supports more than 350,000 full- and part-time journalism jobs in its numerous news bureaus and manual labor camps stationed around the world, and members of its editorial board have served with distinction in an advisory capacity for such nations as China, Syria, Somalia, and the former Soviet Union. On top of its journalistic pursuits, The Onion also owns and operates the majority of the world's transoceanic shipping lanes, stands on the nation's leading edge on matters of deforestation and strip mining, and proudly conducts tests on millions of animals daily.

If you somehow find that hard to believe: you are right. Scroll down a bit futher on that page and you'll find this:

What if I want to sue The Onion?
Please do not do that. The First Amendment protects satire as a form of free speech and expression. The Onion uses invented names in all of its stories, except in cases where public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. The Onion is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.

Articles from The Onion are frequently mistaken for real news by people on social media that only see the headline, short description and thumbnail image. Being one of the best known satire sites their articles also frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites that don't carry a satire disclaimer. Always Google before sharing something that sounds improbable!

Here are some earlier hoaxes from The Onion we covered:

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  Maarten Schenk

Maarten Schenk is the co-founder and COO/CTO of Lead Stories and an expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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