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 sweeping Japan. 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 international press and spread around the world.
What may even be stranger is that exactly one day after Snopes delivered its verdict on the story, TNT magazine came out with an explosive article that led with this: “Eye licking: Kiwis warned not to imitate strange fetish sweeping across Japan.”
I guess in all the excitement, TNT didn’t see the memo.
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 the pages of newspapers, magazines, and more all around the world.
Also see: "In the Public Eye" on Snopes.com
Related MediaBugs reports (the same error repeated over and over again):
Poke in the Eye (The New Age); Weird Science (Science World Report); A Funny Sounding Story (AOL News); Fox Takes Eye off Eyeball Story (Fox 29 News, Philadelphia) Eye Network Loses Sight of Facts (CBS Atlanta); In the Shadow of Doubt (Toronto Sun); The Hot Trend That's Not (PIX 11 News, New York); Houston We Have a Problem (KRIV-TV, Fox 26 in Houston, Texas); The Spread (Houston Chronicle); Seeing Eye to Eye (Huffington Post/UK edition); Eye Witless News Report (ABC News); UPI Out of Focus (United Press International); Another Code Brown! (Medical Daily); Entertaining... Licks Telling the News (ABC2 News, WMAR-TV, Baltimore); Didn't Get the Memo (New Zealand Herald); 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)
TNT's social media coordinator, Dan Thorne, returned my email straight away to let me know that TNT updated its article with a link to Snopes.com as follows:
"However, snopes.com has suggested that the so-called 'craze' may have been the result of a juicy bizarre news report that got a little out of control."