A story about a man who was killed by a crocodile after smoking meth, stripping naked, and then trying to have sex with the prehistoric reptile has been doing the rounds in Australian, British and Indian media.
Today, I can tell you with no doubt that this story is not true (surprise).
It first appeared on the Cairns Times – an online-only publication – and from there featured in India Today, Reddit's "Not the Onion" (which is meant to focus on stories that are wild, crazy, and yet, true) and all across Facebook. The Metro published also published a story questioning the article's validity.
The story has also been across Twitter, both in Australia and internationally, since it was published.
Here are some of the alleged "facts" from the article:
A 26-year-old man was at Clifton Beach (which is a real place) in Queensland (also a real place) when he smoked "a large quantity of ice" (Australian vernacular for methamphetamine), wandered down the beach, took off his clothes, and then attempted to have sex with a crocodile.
After apparently watching his good friend try to engage in intercourse with a crocodile, another man allegedly told the Cairns Times this:
"We were still a fair distance back, but I reckon he just about got it in."
A spokesperson for Queensland Police told BuzzFeed News no such event occurred but did mention an 18-year-old who was attacked in March and this month has been charged with drug related offenses. But that's a whole different bag, man.
A brief look at the Cairns Times website reveals how little of its content is self-published.
Pedestrian.tv found entire articles about NFL - of all things - completely ripped from another site, the Florida Sun Post.
An IP address search shows the Cairns Times is based out of San Francisco, California, through domain server provider Cloudflare. It's some way from the sunny beaches of Far North Queensland. The Florida Sun Post, another fake news site that the Cairns Times links out to, is also hosted on Cloudflare in California.
The Cairns Times itself is listed as being owned by a dude named Johnathon Bayer, who lives in Cairns. When BuzzFeed News attempted to contact Bayer for comment, the phone rang out.
The line has since been disconnected.
Johnathan, if you're reading this:
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.