Fake News: Work NOT Underway To Rotate Big Ben So It Faces Mecca

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Work NOT Underway To Rotate Big Ben So It Faces Mecca

Is the famous Big Ben in London being rotated so it faces Mecca? No, that's not true. The Elizabeth Tower (the official name of the clock tower commonly known as Big Ben) is currently being renovated but the story about the rotation came from a satire website.

It originated from an article published on May 2, 2018 by the Southend News Network which was titled "Work underway to rotate Big Ben so it faces Mecca" (archived here) which opened:

A spokesperson for the Palace of Westminster has confirmed that work to rotate the main clock face of Big Ben so that it faces Mecca is 'progressing nicely,' with the current scaffolding due to be removed by early 2019.

According to the Department of Culture and Societal Enrichment, the current faces are directed towards Southend-on-Sea, Brighton, Bristol and Birmingham, and the £500m taxpayer-funded initiative will ensure that at least one face remains 118.98° from true North - the correct co-ordinates to ensure an uninterrupted line with the holy site in Saudi Arabia.

DCSE Minister Edward Frenulum said, 'The newly-oriented Big Ben will reflect the true values of British society.'

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Work underway to rotate Big Ben so it faces Mecca

A spokesperson for the Palace of Westminster has confirmed that work to rotate the main clock face of Big Ben so that it faces Mecca is 'progressing nicely,' with the current scaffolding due to be removed by early 2019. According to the Department of Culture and Societal Enrichment, the current faces are directed towards Southend-on-Sea,...

Of course there is no "Department of Culture and Societal Enrichment" and Minister Edward Frenulum doesn't exist either (the name is actually a dick joke as is customary in Southend News Network articles).

If you are interested in the actual renovation works going on, this official website has you covered:

All your questions about the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben works answered

To ensure that the UK's most famous clock continues to keep time, specialist teams carry out regular maintenance and adjustments to the Great Clock. However, it has now been over 31 years since the last extensive works were carried out to maintain the Elizabeth Tower.

The Southend News Network is a satirical site pretending to be a news organisation by the English coast in Southend. They have a disclaimer on their about page that reads (in part):

Southend News Network was originally started in October 2015 with no real aims or objectives in mind other than to add a satirical/spoof-like touch to issues that people are passionate about in Southend On Sea. Above all else, SNN is all about having the occasional 'dig' at the powers that be, as well a slightly bigger and more frequent 'dig' at certain elements of local media!

Several of their stories have been mistaken for real news in the past and the site was recognized by the local authorities as an "official news outlet".

We wrote about southendnewsnetwork.net 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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