Was 72-year-old fisherman Alvin McCallister rescued after being shipwrecked and did he claim to have been sexually assaulted by mermaids? 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 October 2, 2019 titled "Florida fisherman lost at sea for 14 days claims he was sexually assaulted by mermaids" (archived here) which opened:
A fisherman lost at sea for 14 days off the coast of Florida has been rescued by the United States Coast Guard this week.
Alvin McCallister, 72, was found on a small rocky islet 200 miles off the nearest coastline where he shipwrecked two weeks ago and managed to survive off of several seagulls, mussels, and urchins.
McCallister, for whom doctors do not fear for his life, was found suffering from intense hallucinations possibly caused by dehydration and the toxins of unidentified mussels he consumed on the small islet.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
A fisherman lost at sea for 14 days off the coast of Florida has been rescued by the United States Coast Guard this week. Alvin McCallister, 72, was found on a small rocky islet 200 miles off the nearest coastline where he shipwrecked two weeks ago and managed to survive off of several seagulls, mu
The image used to illustrate the story seems to consist of a picture of an old man superimposed over a different hospital picture that can also be found in this story:
While it's hard not to roll your eyes at voice assistants getting added to every single thing in the smart home, a Los Angeles hospital is actually putting Amazon Alexa to good use. About 100 patient rooms at Cedars-Sinai will now be equipped with Amazon Echos to help patients and caregivers interact more efficiently.
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:
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:
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:
- Fake News: Elderly Woman NOT Accused of Training Her 65 Cats To Steal From Neighbors
- Fake News: NO 5-Meter Tall Human Skeleton Unearthed In Australia
- Fake News: NO New Jersey Brother And Sister Allowed To Marry After 10-year-long Court Battle
- Fake News: Amnesiac Man Did NOT Wake From Coma Speaking Only Ancient Hebrew
- Fake News: Kentucky Police Did NOT Shoot White Coal Miner 5 Times Thinking He Was Black