First, we need to collectively realize — then get over the fact that — People’s Daily has a Facebook page. Then we can get to this story, first tweeted by Bill Bishop with the question, “People’s Daily fall for fake news again?”
Turns out, yes. Very fake.
— Austin Ramzy (@austinramzy) January 10, 2014
From the above Snopes link:
On 9 January 2014, the Lightly Braised Turnip web site published an article (complete with photo) positing that a squid grown to the gigantic size of 160 feet through mutations caused by radioactivity had been discovered on the California coast near Santa Monica…
By later that day, links and excerpts referencing this article were being circulated via social media, with many of those who encountered the item mistaking it for a genuine news article. However, that article was just a bit of fictional humor (a follow-up to an earlier fictional item about a giant oarfish supposedly discovered off the California coast) spoofing recent alarmist reports about dangerous radioactivity reaching the U.S. from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, and the photo was an altered version of a picture depicting a dead whale found in Chile back in 2011.
As always when Chinese state media falls for satire, we have to ask whether the people behind it are trolling us, or the editors. I’ve heard from credible sources that the person behind People’s Daily’s “Kim Jong-un Named Sexiest Man Alive” stunt was indeed a foreign copy editor who knew exactly what he was doing.
We’re not so sure this time. After all, this story first gained legs when people in the US were duped. Native speakers don’t always get it right, as we are well aware.
And of course, this isn’t nearly as egregious an error as media reporting that Kim Jong-un fed his uncle to dogs, which began with a Chinese satirist — one whom BJC contributor Xiao Yi wrote about in December 2012.
Keep your chin up, People’s Daily. We’re enjoying your work with pandas, scantily clad “beauties,” and the Diaoyu Islands.