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Legions of Twitter and Facebook users are a little red-faced this week after falling for a web hoax based on the classic eighties film Back to the Future.
An image of the dashboard of the time-travelling DeLorean was widely retweeted and shared across the internet on Wednesday, as it showed the future date chosen by Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) as June 27th, 2012. In fact, the date shown in the film is 21st October, 2015.
Eagle-eyed fans of the endearing sci-fi were quick to spot the prank, but plenty of other web users were not so observant; the image swiftly went viral, being shared and re-shared thousands of times in just a few hours.
This isn’t one of the most spectacular web hoaxes ever to be pulled off, but it does gain an air of the ridiculous when it is taken into account that the exact same hoax was carried out two years ago by Total Film Magazine. The movie mag inadvertently caused a Twitter storm in July 2010, after first genuinely mistaking the date, then jokingly photo-shopping an image to ‘prove’ that they were right. This time around, the image was doctored by social media manager Steve Berry in order to promote the release of a new Back to the Future DVD box set. Speaking to Mashable, Berry said:
‘We promoted the image confident in the knowledge that everyone was familiar with the original hoax from a couple of years ago. We figured that no-one would fall for the same joke twice, so the caption was deliberately replicated word for word so that people would get the reference.’
Apparently the reference wasn’t quite clear enough for everyone who was taken in by the campaign on Wednesday. As the old saying goes, ‘fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’.