Gemma Sheridan, a Liverpool woman, was used in a prank that generated hundreds of thousands of shares on Facebook, and she recently spoke about it to a local U.K. newspaper.
The article, titled “Google Earth Finds Woman Trapped on Deserted Island,” went hugely viral, but it’s just a hoax. It was published on News-Hound.org, which is known for other hoaxes.
Most of the fake report–which says a woman was trapped on a deserted island for seven years–was lifted from a Daily Mail article from a few years ago about survivalist and explorer Ed Stafford. The “SOS” image was lifted from unrest in Kyrgyzstan in June 2010.
Sheridan, who is a real person but never got trapped on an island, wrote on Twitter that her friends created the story on News-Hound as a prank.
Sheridan, a woman from Liverpool, spoke with the Liverpool Echo newspaper about the hoax.
“The people behind the website are just a good friend with a strange sense of humour and busy brain,” she told the paper. “They posted the story then messaged me saying they were going to make me famous. I thought the story was a good one and it made me laugh.”
Sheridan said that she “can’t kill a spider nevermind smash a goats head in,” referring to content in the fake story.
“I thought it would get a few likes but didn’t expect this,” she said. “A surprising amount of people thought it was real. I feel bad disappointing people but it’s just laugh.”
The website Hoax-Slayer says that NewsHound publishes all sorts of fake news stories, even though it has no disclaimer.
“The fake report originates from NewsHound, a publication that seemingly specializes in publishing all manner of nonsense disguised as news. In another ‘news’ story, it regurgitates the absurd claim that an upcoming ‘planetary alignment’ will decrease Earth’s gravity. And, in yet another, it publishes an old hoax about KFC changing its name because it no longer users real chicken. In short, nothing published on the site should be taken seriously,” Hoax-Slayer says.