You may still be trying to process the revelation that the Mississippi Herald’s “married couple are twins” story has turned out to be fake news. But this internet hoax actually had a precedent, and it happened to be a real-life case in the United Kingdom from the late 2000s.
For those who are still unaware of the controversy that has recently been brewing, the Mississippi Herald reported on Thursday that a couple from the state capital of Jackson had made the shocking discovery at a fertility clinic that they were twins who were born on the same date in 1984. The names of the man and the woman, as well as the names of the doctor who had made the discovery, were withheld due to “patient confidentiality restrictions,” but the unnamed doctor said that he stumbled upon the apparent blood relations of the married couple during a routine test of DNA samples.
Not long after the original report went viral, many readers became suspicious, and Snopes ran a fact check on the “married couple are twins” story, pointing out that the story did not have any reporter byline, nor any specifics whatsoever, not even the name of the fertility clinic. But the real kicker was the fact that the story was a word-for-word duplicate of a previous story reported on another fake news site, the Denver Inquirer, with the only difference being the name of the city used. This all boiled down to the story being debunked as an internet hoax.
Married couple told they are biological twins while at IVF clinic https://t.co/GwCuSzSUun > save this one for when you're having a bad day
— Barbarian Capital (@BarbarianCap) April 16, 2017
The above story has been established as fake news, but there have been well-documented, real-life cases of married couples turning out to be twins who were adopted at infancy by different families.
A January 2008 report from BBC News detailed the story of a pair of twins who were separated at birth and adopted by different families, only to meet again several years later and get married. At the time they met, they felt an “inevitable attraction” to each other, but were unaware of the truth that they were actually brother and sister. This marriage was annulled by a British court when the newly-married couple found out they were twins all along.
BBC News wrote that the unnamed crossbench peer who annulled the marriage had first raised the case in December 2007, explaining that the man and woman were never informed that they were related to each other.
“They met later in life and felt an inevitable attraction, and the judge had to deal with the consequences of the marriage that they entered into and all the issues of their separation.”
The peer added that the unusual case was important because it underscored the need for children to know who their biological parents are, and the dangers of withholding such information.
“If you don’t know you are biologically related to someone, you may become attracted to them and tragedies like this may occur.”
— Nathan Kitchens (@nwkitchens) April 16, 2017
Speaking to BBC News, British Association for Adoption and Fostering director of child placement Mo O’Reilly said in 2008 that such situations, traumatic as they may be for the people affected, are “incredibly rare.” She noted that this would have been more common about three to four decades ago, but today’s adopted children are more cognizant of who their biological families are, thereby making it less likely than ever that a married couple would find out that they were twins who were separated at birth or childhood.
While the U.K. example shows that it is possible that a married couple could turn out to be a pair of twins after all, the fallout of the recent fake news reveal has raised a completely different point – even legitimate-sounding publications could turn out to be bogus websites publishing internet hoaxes, and could look credible enough to have their content reposted by actual news sites.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the Mississippi Herald has a similar name to the legitimate newspaper Mississippi Sun-Herald, and does not have a Google News listing. Although the headlines ostensibly sound believable, there are some articles that appear deliberately lacking in specifics, including, but not limited to the aforementioned article.
Due to the similarity of both publications’ names, some had mistakenly thought that the married twins story originally came from the Sun-Herald.
“Our web editor is aware of this story and the Mississippi Herald appears to be the only source of this news,” said Sun-Herald night editor Kim Anderson in a statement quoted by the International Business Times.
Aside from the apparent “married couple are twins” internet hoax, do you know of any other seemingly plausible news stories that ultimately pulled the proverbial wool over the eyes of legitimate publications? Do let us know in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by bedya/Shutterstock]