How a Newcastle fan exposing himself led to a cautionary tale on fake news

A 'fake news' story about a lifetime ban for a Newcastle United fan who exposed himself during a live television match has gained traction on social media, seemingly fooling thousands of people.

To be clear, the fan in question hasn't been banned, but that hasn't stopped the story going far and wide, including via match-winner Allan Saint-Maximin.

Police are investigating the incident - during the Magpies' FA Cup win over Oxford - but no arrest has been made and no banning order enforced.

So how did we get to a point where many think the case is already done and dusted?

Earlier this week, a story was published on a website under the headline 'Newcastle fan banned for life for waggling penis'. Indeed, it's one of the top results when you search 'Newcastle fan' in Google.

A quick read of the article in question might have shown a few red flags, including quotes such as: "The goal's gone in, and before I know it my penis has broken free and started to rotate."

Allan Saint-Maximin's tweet reaction
Allan Saint-Maximin's initial reaction to the alarming celebration after his goal

As well as the simple misinformation, it led to some false equivocations on banning orders.

Jack Grealish tweet
Jack Grealish's reply to another story about a shorter ban for a racist incident

So to clarify, a club does have the power to ban a fan from their ground for life, as that is regarded as a civil matter. As per the Crown Prosecution Service website, a countrywide ban must come in the shape of a football banning order - a criminal matter. The maximum length for a FBO is 10 years.

A Newcastle United spokesman said: "We are aware of footage showing the clearly inappropriate actions of a supporter during the closing stages of Tuesday night's Emirates FA Cup fourth-round replay at Oxford United.

"We have been asked to assist the police in their efforts to identify the supporter in question and we will provide our full support."

If in doubt, BBC Reality Check offers a service for users who want to submit stories to be checked.

And there are tools to help students spot fake news too.

Be careful out there.

A meme depicting a fake quote from Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln with this famous quote, centuries before the internet was invented

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