Whiteboard girl hoax fools thousands on net

By Daniel Emery
Technology reporter, BBC News

Image caption,
Thousands of people thought the images were authentic

A series of photographs, allegedly from a woman quitting her post by exposing her sexist boss, has been exposed as an elaborate hoax.

The images showed a girl called Jenny holding up a whiteboard message to her former boss Spencer saying his "breath smells" and had demotivated staff.

The pictures quickly went viral with more than 360,000 "likes" on Facebook.

But after internet detectives started digging, the site hosting the images admitted the entire event was staged.

The Chive website posted a story on 9 August which contained 33 photographs of a woman calling herself Jenny holding up a whiteboard with a series of messages aimed at her boss, where she claimed he spent hours playing online games, sapped staff morale and that workers talked about him behind his back.


The site became an overnight internet sensation.

Image caption,
The advert seeking a 21 - 25 year old female model

However, many users questioned the legitimacy of the story, especially as the owners of the site in question had made up a story that the tycoon Donald Trump had left a $10,000 tip on an $82 bill.

The story was picked up by a number of media outlets, including Fox News, although a brief investigation by the Los Angeles Times proved the story to be false.

While many traditional media outlets ran this latest story as "fact", other sites with longer memories started to do a little digging.

Peter Kafka from All Things Digital ran a story looking at the history of the duo behind The Chive website, reminding users that they were behind the Donald Trump hoax, along with some others that became viral internet stories.

A copy of an advert placed by co-owner of The Chive, John Rezig, looking for a "girl next door model type" was then posted on-line.

A few hours later, the site admitted the entire thing had been staged and "Jenny" was, in fact, a young model called Elyse Porterfield.

"I've had a blast and, more than anything, I hope you've been entertained," she wrote in a new set of photographs admitting the hoax.

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.