Fake News: Cut Off Your Genitals Challenge Is NOT Real

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Cut Off Your Genitals Challenge Is NOT Real

Is there a "cut off your genitals" challenge making the rounds online among teens? Nope, if you believed that you fell for a piece of satire. There is no such thing, it is not real and rumors about it are entirely false.

Satirical website The Onion posted an article on April 4, 2018 titled "New 'Cut Off Your Genitals' Challenge Gains Popularity Among Teens Online" (archived here) which opened:

MILWAUKEE--Noting an unprecedented increase in the number of cases involving juveniles with self-inflicted knife wounds, representatives from the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin confirmed Wednesday that the internet's new "Cut Off Your Genitals" challenge has become very popular among teenagers. "We are disappointed to report this online fad is both spreading quickly and is pretty much exactly what its name implies," said trauma surgeon Rebecca Garland, adding that nearly 70 percent of teens treated in the nation's intensive care units last month reported having recently filmed themselves using a serrated blade to detach their genitals, which they then threw at an unsuspecting friend as a prank

But a quick search on YouTube confirmed there were no videos of said challenge to be found:


The satire story is reminiscent of an older hoax about college kids threatening to emasculate themselves if President Trump goes ahead with plans to build a border wall:

Fake News: College Kids Did NOT Pledge To Remove Genitals If Trump Builds Wall | Lead Stories

Hoax Alert Leadstories' Trendolizer engine detected a fake story that has been trending since last weekend and which has reappeared on several fake and hoax news websites by now. According to the story 2 students at the University of California were going to publicly remove their penis if President Trump went ahead and build his famous USA-Mexico border wall.

The new story is a satirical take on the recent "Tide Pod" and "Condom Snort" challenges in which teens dare each other online to bite down on a Tide Pod or to snort a condom through their nostrill. Both activities carry significant risk of injury or even death so we wouldn't recommend attempting them.

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!

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

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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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