What you see above was the story that went screaming out on something called the Global Associated News early this morning. That the item appeared on a web page with a warning at the bottom that says "THIS STORY IS 100% FAKE" didn't stop people on Facebook and Twitter from believing it:
Before long, people began to ask football writers whether they could confirm anything:
ESPN New York's Johnette Howard was among the first to jump into the fray:
And golf writer Ron Sirak made note of it without citing a source, which gave the impression it was his own report:
Howard and Sirak even kept trying to push it out:
Even Sarah Spain got in on the act, albeit skeptically:
But within minutes, the debunking began, based on, well, reality:
And, hey, everybody look: The site's home page calls it "a media hoax generator." And the site's URL, ben.roethlisberger.mediafetcher.com/news/top_stories/football_car_crash.php?location=Pennsylvania, can be customized to include any location and anyone's name. I changed Roethlisberger's name in the URL to my own. And—presto!—the site produced a story that says I broke my legs in an accident, too. Just like Ben did!
Eventually, Spain, Howard, and Sirak figured out what was going on.