On August 8th, the famed urban legend-debunking website, Snopes.com had lifted the lid on rampant reports of a dangerous new eyeball licking craze among Japan’s tweens. Based primarily on the findings of Tokyo-based journalist, Mark Schreiber, Snopes proclaimed the story to be patently false. It was a strange tale that hit the web sometime in June of 2013 from which it was picked up by the press and spread around the world. What may even be stranger is that on the exact same day that Snopes delivered its verdict on the story, the New Zealand Herald came out with an article that led with this: “Kiwi teenagers are being warned against a bizarre eyeball-licking craze sweeping Japan.”
I guess the Herald didn’t get the memo.
[Incidentally, after being contacted about a MediaBugs report, The Huff Post was perhaps the first among many who carried this story to update it with a reference to Schreiber’s work on August 7th. The signs were all out there on the information highway for the NZ Herald to see. Did they simply turn a blind eye?]
If you want a real eye-opener, take a look at "Lick This!" by Mark Schreiber and read how the tale of a fake fad made in Japan made its way into online publications like MNT as well as the pages of newspapers, magazines, and more all around the world.
Also see: "In the Public Eye" on Snopes.com
Related MediaBugs reports:
Here is the Thing (MSN News Canada) Fatal Error (CTV News Canada); Time to Correct? (Time Magazine); More Than Meets the Eye (New York Post); A Cock-eyed Story (New York Daily News); Faking It (Syracuse.com/The Post-Standard); Bucking the Trend That Wasn't (The Times of India); If You Can't Lick 'Em Join 'Em (Fox News); Not a Lick of Truth (The Telegraph); Eye Network Lacks Nose for Fishy Stories (CBS News); Calling Out the Daily Caller (The Daily Caller); Code Brown (Medical News Today); Gawk at This! (Gawker); Not a Thing (The San Francisco Chronicle); Less Than Meets the Eye (The Guardian); A Blind Eye to the Truth (Huffington Post); Falling for a Fake Story... (The Washington Times)
Disappeared (story deleted by news org.):
Faking It (Syracuse.com/The Post-Standard)