VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Report on DotA 2 ban in the Philippines a PRANK

Double-check the web address of the next story you encounter online. You might end up getting pranked.

A story about a supposed nationwide ban on the multiplayer online game Defense of the Ancients (DotA) is one such report, created through a prank generator called The Fake News Generator.

Facebook's fact-checking rating system identifies prank generators as "websites that allow users to create their own 'prank' news stories to share on social media sites."

For the story "Dota 2 Banned in Philippines," clicking the link does not even lead to an actual report. Instead, it opens the prank generator itself, which welcomes readers with this statement: "You clicked this fake news story. Now make your own!", alongside a form to create one's own fake news.

The Fake News Generator also provides a list of impostor web addresses or URLs to choose from, to dupe people into thinking the stories come from the major American news outlets, from the Associated Press to The New York Times.

Below are the fake news site choices listed in The Fake News Generator and the corresponding legitimate URLs:

Media outlet

Legitimate web address

Fake News Generator web address

CBS News (American TV network)

cbsnews.com

cbsnews.us

The New York Times

nytimes.com

thenewyorktimes.company

NBC News (American TV network)

nbcnews.com

nbc-news.org

The Los Angeles Times

latimes.com

the-los-angeles-times.com

Sean Hannity’s website (Fox News Channel host)

hannity.com

hannnity.com

The Associated Press

ap.org

theasociatedpress.com

Tonightat11.tv

Fake site

tonightat11.tv

Microwavetinfoil.com

Fake site

microwavetinfoil.com

Thefakenewsgenerator.com

Fake site

thefakenewsgenerator.com

Apart from the dubious URLs, this prank generator makes use of:

  • Short headlines (100 characters at most)
  • Short descriptions (200 characters maximum)
  • An option to add any photo from image hosting service Flickr.

The DotA story swiped a 2010 photo of Malaysian gaming group Nirvana.my uploaded on Flickr and found on the website of Electronic Sports World Cup Malaysia (ESWC Malaysia).

There has been no news report about a nationwide ban on DotA or DotA 2. However, in 2015, Salawag, a barangay in Dasmarinas, Cavite, was reported to have issued a resolution banning the game from computer shops within its jurisdiction.

The prank DotA ban story could have reached over 126,000 people, and its biggest traffic generator is the Filipino online gaming meme page Alamat ng Peenoise.

The Fake News Generator was created March 12.


(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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