Fake News: Malia Obama NOT Charged With Starting The Tide Pod Challenge

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Malia Obama NOT Charged With Starting The Tide Pod Challenge

Did Malia Obala start the Tide Pod Challenge and did she get arrested and charged with a crime for that? Nope, did not happen, not true etc. This whopper originated on a site known to publish satirical fake news meant to trigger conservatives and Trump supporters into sharing over the top fake stories online so they can be mocked for it.

This one appeared on April 10, 2018 on Daily World Update under the headline "LATEST: Malia Obama Charged With Starting The 'Tode Pod Challenge'" (archived here), intentionally misspelling "Tide" as "Tode". It opened:

Federal Investigators charged with getting to the bottom of the teen "movement" to eat Tide Pods and tell adults they can't have guns has landed on an unlikely doorstep. According to Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Chief Jack Bowman:

"We received a request from the Department of Justice to hold Malia Obama on charges of inciting a movement of violence or harmful behavior. It seems that she started the 'Tide Pod Challenge.' She's being held without bail until she can be moved to a federal holding facility."

The Tide Pod Challenge is defined on Wikipedia as follows:

In January 2018, following the meme's surge in popularity, media publications started reporting about teenagers participating in the Tide Pod Challenge. The challenge is an Internet challenge in which an individual consumes Tide Pods. Teenagers were the reported demographic participating in the challenge; they would record themselves chewing and gagging on pods and then daring others to do the same. Some of these videos were posted on YouTube. Some teens cooked the pods prior to eating them.

And like this on Know Your Meme:

Tide POD Challenge

Tide POD Challenge refers to a dare game involving the consumption of Tide PODS laundry detergent capsules, which are often compared to various fruit-flavored snack foods due to their packaging and appearance. Online, the practice of eating Tide PODS is frequently mocked in a similar vein to bleach drinking and the consumption of other poisonous forbidden snacks.

Nowhere do any of these definitions mention Malia Obama as the originator of the idea.

The site Daily World Update comes with a clear satire disclaimer at the bottom of each article:

sat·ire ~ˈsaˌtī(ə)r
the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, OR ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
If you disagree with the definition of satire or have decided it is synonymous with "comedy," you should really just move along.

The owner and main writer of the site is self-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has made it his full time job to troll gullible conservatives and Trump supporters into liking and sharing his articles. He runs several other websites such as ladiesofliberty.net, shareotonin.com and dailyworldupdate.com. Sometimes he is also known under his nickname "Busta Troll". He has at least one accomplice who writes under the pen names "Freedom", "Captain Jellypants", "Butch Mannington" or "Captain Buck Atlantis".

Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up and he keeps knocking them down.

If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is of course also fake news.

We wrote about dailyworldupdate.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident 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.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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