Friday, 9 May 2014


Hamburger chef Jamie Oliver has won his long-fought battle against one of the largest fast food chains in the world – McDonalds. After Oliver showed how McDonald’s hamburgers are made, the franchise finally announced that it will change its recipe, and yet there was barely a peep about this in the mainstream, corporate media.

If you shared an "article" that started with this paragraph, you're not alone, although you might be stupid.

There are approximately 1,723,950 different pages on the internet with this story, all using the exact same text.

These "articles" all go back to a page posted in August 2013, ripped from a news article in January 2012, and they all show this video which was uploaded to Youtube in April 2011.

I deliberately copied and pasted the first paragraph - not the whole thing, although it was tempting - to illustrate the point.

Let's have at look at the top 3 search results in Google for the phrase "Hamburger chef Jamie Oliver has won his long-fought battle against one of the largest fast food chains in the world – McDonalds" (without quote marks).

Just the top 3, because despite the endless labyrinth of pages copying each other, that's all we need:

#1 End All Disease - website page
  • No post date 
  • Dodgy website name (category: natural health)

#2 Facebook post by "Doc Rivers" on official CNN Facebook page
  • 6 August 2013
  • Link is the above Political Blindspot web page
  • Apparently 5 people like this, and 3 people shared it. Why #2, Google?

#3 Before It's News - advert-soaked website page
  • April 25, 2014
  • this page (dodgy website name, category: natural health) dated April 24 (2014?) with a "Source" link leading to:
  • the same Political Blindspot page mentioned above (August 3, 2013).

But it doesn't stop there. This Daily Mail article is dated 27 January 2012.

The text is not the same, but it is the same story - that Jamie Oliver had succeeded in his campaign against McDonalds using ammonia-cleaned "pink slime" in its burgers.

To clarify: The Daily Mail is the best "journalism" in this whole mess. The Daily Mail.

Interestingly myth-busting website Snopes does not mention any of these recent articles, but it does have this article called "Legal Separation" about both pink slime and mechanically-separated chicken, which was "Collected via email 2010" (article last updated March 2012). As hoaxes go, it rates "MIXTURE OF TRUE AND FALSE INFORMATION" in case you wondered.

To clarify: This shit all went down 3+ years ago, and you're all still sharing it like it's news.

Why this story?

I don't like to promise answers. I'm just looking this stuff up. But a big question here is this: why did this story, instead of or as well as others, get copied and pasted across so many different websites?

My guess is it has a unique combination of factors:
  • Pseudo-health - you can see this plastered across dozens of natural/pseudo health websites, not just ("The Truth Has Arrived" - because that sounds credible)
  • Conspiracy - it's also across lots of conspiracy nut websites, because ZOMG what are the evil corporations putting in our food? Note the dig at "corporate media" in the first paragraph.
  • Life & style - It's food, it's Jamie Oliver, it's your family and your kids.
  • Ewww gross - "Pink slime", ammonia, the pics and video - people love sharing things that are disgusting.
So once Political Blindspot's 6 August 2013 Daily Mail rip-off picked up speed, other websites wanted the page clicks and ad views (this is why major newspapers repost viral videos without actually adding any comment or insight, something we used to call "journalism").

Every time it goes viral, other websites see it going viral, and they want a slice of the ad-clicks from people searching & sharing. So they post it new, and people share it (including those who don't recognise or remember seeing it before), and the cycle continues.

This is why The Mind Unleashed (dodgy website name, categories: pseudo-science + pseudo-health) was able to re-post it in 25th April 2014, with a different picture and even linking in the first paragraph to the Jan 2012 Daily Mail article. And people still clicked share first, ask questions later (if at all).

It's also why Political Blindspot isn't even in the top 10 search results for its own introductory paragraph (#12 if you "repeat the search with the omitted results included").

Come on Jez, get to the point

Now, the point of this blog post is not to break down an internet hoax like "New Trend In Portland", nor to criticise and deconstruct bullshit like the "Look Up" video by Gary Turk.

My point is to explore and explain what is happening behind one example of the things you click "share" on - and apparently keep clicking share on - repeatedly, over and over again.

To clarify: the Jamie Oliver McDonalds Pink Slime internet story may continue being "news" until the actual end of time. (Or the end of the internet, whichever is later.)

What we have here, is a news/meme hybrid. A newme.

It looks like news, but refuses to die, much like the old articles about condoms being too big for Indian men (Dec 2006) and a snake exploding after eating a crocodile (Oct 2005) which persistently and bizarrely clog up the BBC's "Most shared" and "Most read" Top 10 alongside current news articles.

And here I am, at the end of the chain, doing the same - copying the content to draw traffic to my little blog. I've even uploaded the photos as my own to draw traffic in from Google, just like the New Trend In Portland and Whale Slaughter In Denmark posts.

I don't actually have any ads, so I assure you, it's not for the money. It's just because it's all worth thinking about, right? Or maybe it's for the lolz.

For what it's worth, I think Jamie Oliver is pretty cool and fully support his aims in improving food quality, food and labelling standards, and animal welfare standards in farming. There's probably some better people I could linking to (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Chicken Out and Fish Fight just for starters) but here's the Jamie Oliver "Activities & Campaigns" page:

Chur ("cheers" in Kiwi)


  1. Thanks. I came to the same conclusion. Odd that Snopes isn't covering this but who knows, "Mickey D's" or anyone from the top down might have some kind of legal gag on it. Good to see there are people like me out there who try to see through the "Newme" and "Clickbate" bullshit. If this story was real, where's the Docket #? What judge heard the case and in what jurisdiction? My conclusion is that The Honorable Judge "natural health truth news spiritual daily" in the state of "Organic, Clickbaitistan" has closed another case before the defendant even knew there was a charge. Keep up the good fight.

  2. Not a fan of McDs but Jamie O makes me feel sick