Fake News: Mermaid Enthusiast NOT Accidentally Harpooned to Death By Local Fishermen in Philippines

Hoax Alert

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Mermaid Enthusiast NOT Accidentally Harpooned to Death By Local Fishermen in Philippines

Was American tourist Andrew Stevens harpooned to death by fishermen in the Philippines while wearing a mermaid costume? No, that's not true: the story was made up by a Canadian entertainment website that makes a living by publishing fictional stories often involving weird crimes, bizarre sex acts or strange accidents. It is not real.

The story originated from an article published by World News Daily Report on June 20, 2019 titled "Philippines: Mermaid enthusiast accidentally harpooned to death by local fishermen" (archived here) which opened:

An American tourist has met an untimely death in the Philippines after being accidentally killed by local fishermen reports the Manila Catholic Press this week.
Andrew Stevens, 28, was accidentally harpooned to death multiple times by local fishermen who allegedly mistook Stevens for some kind of large fish.

Stevens at the time was wearing a colorful mermaid tail which could explain the confusion believe authorities.

"The victim died after receiving 127 stab wounds from the harpoons and was found with a large hook stuck in his left cheek," a Manila police spokesman told local reporters.

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

Philippines: Mermaid enthusiast accidentally harpooned to death by local fishermen

An American tourist has met an untimely death in the Philippines after being accidentally killed by local fishermen reports the Manila Catholic Press this week. Andrew Stevens, 28, was accidentally harpooned to death multiple times by local fishermen who allegedly mistook Stevens for some kind of l

However the image of the man in a mermaid costume used in the story is actually Davi Moreira from Brazil:

The Little MerMAN

Davi Moreira dons a blue mermaid's tail when he goes to the beach in Rio Was inspired from childhood by Disney's popular movie 'The Little Mermaid His obsession is to be a second Ariel, the main character in the movie Davi Moreira looks like any other young Rio de Janeiro beach lover as he heads down to the Ipanema surf each week - at least until he dons his blue mermaid's tail.

There is also no newspaper or news outlet in the Philippines named the "Manila Catholic Press".

The website World News Daily Report is a humor website specialized in posting hoaxes and made up stories. The disclaimer on their website is pretty clear about that even though you have to scroll all the way down the page to find it:

World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website - even those based on real people - are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.

On March 20, 2019 the site added a new header that included the slogan "Where facts don't matter" to make it clearer to casual visitors the published content is fictional:

factsdontmatter3.png

The site often uses images stolen without attribution from real news websites, sometimes showing real people who have nothing to do with the story, for example here:

Woman Says Newborn Photo Stolen for Satirical Fake News Story

It is run by Janick Murray-Hall and Olivier Legault, who also run the satirical Journal de Mourréal, a satirical site spoofing the (real) Journal de Montéal. Very often their stories feature an image showing a random crazy mugshot found in a mugshot gallery on the internet or on a stock photo website superimposed over a background of flashing police lights or crime scene tape.

Articles from the site are frequently copied (sometimes even months or years later) by varous fake news websites that omit the satire disclaimer and present the information as real.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes worldnewsdailyreport.com as:

A website that publishes hoaxes and made-up stories that are often widely shared and mistaken for news.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about worldnewsdailyreport.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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