Joe Scafe was a notorious serial killer.
College professor T. Mills Kelly teaches a class called "Lying About the Past", where students are encouraged to create historical hoaxes on the internet.
Professor Kelly wants his course to lighten up a stuffy approach to history, teach the mechanics of historical research and improve his student's critical thinking skills.
In 2008, his class dreamed up Edward Owens, a pirate who prowled Chesapeake Bay in the 1870s. That got mentioned in USA Today's pop culture blog, so some people got fooled.
In 2012, the class invented two hoaxes. One, about discovering a recipe for an 1812 beer, used Wikipedia and Twitter to spread the tale, but hardly anyone noticed.
The other deception was inventing Joe Scafe, a serial killer who killed four women in the late 1800s. The class mixed real and fake information. They used real accounts of murders published in the New York papers, and tried to deceive others by posting a message to Reddit, where the community can rank a story's popularity.
This time, the elaborate hoax was discovered within an hour.
Why? One reason is that Reddit is a community of people who discuss things, and any small doubt is spread quickly.
Find out more by reading the entire article: How the Professor Who Fooled Wikipedia Got Caught by Reddit, The Atlantic>>
- Serial Killers, Beer, and Lies About the Past, Edwired>>
- Joe Scafe, the fake serial killer, on Flickr>>