Was a man whose fart is known to kill mosquitoes hired to produce belly gas for a repellent? No, that's not true: The man was a fictional creation of a satire website, but many publishers failed to pick up on the joke and republished the claim as real. The Sun newspaper of London was duped into publishing a story, which was then cited as a source by other websites in their false reports. The Sun retracted their story, but others are yet to do so.
While the story originated on a satire website and then published by the Sun, one recent version is an article (archived here) where it was published by Pulse.com.gh on December 12, 2019, under the title "Man whose fart kills mosquitoes has been hired to produce belly gas for repellent". It opened:
God has indeed gifted everybody with something unique that can be of benefit to the world.
A 48-year-old from Kampala, Uganda has claimed that scientists are currently researching the components of his fart to ascertain how and what exactly in it that kills mosquitoes in large numbers.
Joe Rwamirama has reportedly been signed up by insect repellent companies who are researching into his fart.
This is what social media users saw:
This report included a remarkable claim that this one man's flatulance had protected his village from malaria since no mosquitoes could survive within a six-mile radius:
He is reported as saying that no one in his home village has ever contracted malaria because his fart kills insects over a six-mile radius which is estimated to be larger than that of the atomic bomb which destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.
Corroborating his claim, thesun.co.uk quoted a local barber by name James Yoweri as saying: "He is known all over the city as the man who can kill mosquitoes with his farts.
But when we checked with the Sun website, we learned the disappointing truth. The claim was false and the Sun retracted its story in a post titled GONE WITH THE WIND Correction: Mosquito repellent:
On 10 December we published an article headlined "GONE WITH THE WIND Man whose deadly farts 'can kill mosquitoes hired to create Mosquito Repellent made from his intestinal gas'".
We now understand that the story originated on a news parody website. Mosquito repellant companies have not expressed interest in working with a man whose flatulence can kill mosquitoes.
We are happy to set the record straight.
Now, that stinks. But we say to the Sun: If you printed it, you vented it.
The original publisher appeared to be the South African website ihlayanews.com.
Under the header of the ihlayanews.com site there is disclaimer that reads "nuusparodie waarvan jy hou". In Afrikaans this means "news parody you like". And "ihlaya" means "a joke" in Zulu. The Facebook page associated with the site has quite the big disclaimer at the top of the page as well:
The site used to look very much like a news website until at least November 2019 but it has since made some alterations. It used to post most stories in a category named "FEATURED NEWS" (which would appear three times above each article). That has now been changed to just "featured". The name of the site in the header also used to be "ihlaya news" before it got changed to "n p a s".
However the site still misleads many people by having a domain name with "news" in it and by not being more clear about the fictional nature of its content. A header that has tiny, light-grey disclaimer in a different language does not count as a "clearly visible indication" under our Satire Policy so we rate this story "False".