An article that tells a story about cannibals arrested in Florida is fake.
TheMiamiGazette.com website posted a story on May 30 with the headline, "Cannibals Arrested in Florida Claim Eating Human Flesh Cures Diabetes and Depression."
"Police in Vernal Heights, Florida, arrested 3-practicing cannibals who claim eating human flesh cures both type-1 and type-2 diabetes and depression," the article begins.
This article cumulatively has 254,000 likes on Facebook and was republished by other websites and blogs. Facebook users flagged the article as being potentially fake, as part of the social media platform’s efforts to curb fake news.
The story is pure fiction.
TheMiamiGazette.com calls itself "an entertainment and satire web publication" in its Disclaimer section. The disclaimer also stated, "All news articles contained within The Miami Gazette are fictional and presumably satirical news."
This disclaimer is buried, appearing only in a special page in the footer part of the website. Someone surfing the Miami Gazette will hardly notice the caution about the website being fictional, and the article adopts the style of news websites to give the impression of real news.
In its Contact Us page TheMiamiGazette.com provides only an email address with a Gmail account. The website’s domain was registered as private and does not contain additional contact information about the owners.
This article was supposedly written by Anthony Brooks, who has a profile on TheMiamiGazette.com. But there is neither a photo nor contact information for Anthony Brooks.
In addition to providing real-sounding names of the suspects, the article was illustrated with images of a cluttered basement captioned with "courtesy of Vernal Heights Police Department" and cited "Vernal Heights Chief of Police Gregory Moore."
The supposed picture of Vernal Heights Police Chief Gregory Moore traces back to the free photo download website, Pixabay.com.
Pixabay also was used for the photo of the "‘tool wall’ that contained a myriad of tools that police believe were used to dismember several victims" as it states in the fake article.
A photo used in the article that purportedly showed "a kitchen style refrigerator located in a small room in the corner of the basement that contained the limbs, organs, and miscellaneous remains of what police believe to be upwards of 7-8 different individuals" traced back to 41 different results.
As for the suspects, we had difficulty tracking down who the men truly were, although one of them was a Georgia man named Markey Caldwell, who was arrested in 2014 for criminal trespassing.
There is no place in Florida with the name Vernal Heights at all, and no reports of cannibals caught eating flesh to cure diabetes and depression.
That would be big news, if true. In 2012 there was a real story of "Miami Zombie" with elements of cannibalism.
As for this post, it’s Pants on Fire!