Fake News: Paul Allen NOT To Leave $10,000 To Everyone Who Shares This Post

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Paul Allen NOT To Leave $10,000 To Everyone Who Shares This Post

Did the recently deceased Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen promise to leave $10,000 to everybody who shares a post on Facebook? No, that's not true: satirical website The Onion came up with a bit of posthumous humor mocking several Microsoft-related chain emails that have been going around on the Internet forever.

The satirical piece originated from an article published by The Onion on October 16, 2018 titled "Paul Allen To Leave $10,000 To Everyone Who Shares This Post" (archived here) which did not have any words in it, just a picture of Allen.

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

Paul Allen To Leave $10,000 To Everyone Who Shares This Post

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The post is poking fun at the phenomenon of several Microsoft and Bill Gates related chain emails that have been circulating on the Internet since the nineties:

Bill Gates/Microsoft Chain-letter E-mails

Meme Status Submission Year 1994 Origin Original e-mail origin: unknown; "Beta test" email origin: Bryan Mack Tags bill gates, e-mail, chain-letter, beta test, bryan mack Additional References Wikipedia Bill Gates / Microsoft is one of the most popular subjects for chain-letter e-mails that have been circulating since 1994.

The most famous one promised people Microsoft would send them money if they forwarded the email to as many people as possible.

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

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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