Media outlets ranging from the BBC and Los Angeles Times to PC World New Zealand and CNet were hoaxed by a phony study claiming that Internet Explorer browser users have a lower IQ than other browser users.
The "study" (see here) was published on a newly-established site called AptiQuant. AptiQuant claimed to have given "free online IQ tests to over a 100,000 people and then plotted the average IQ scores based on the browser on which the test was taken."
To beef up its website, AptiQuant "lifted" content from a French website called Central Test, CNN reported. According to CNN, AptiQuant copied staff, press and history information to its website.
Read Write Web noted that the study was reported on by "hundreds of outlets...including some of the most reputable news sources in the world."
Read Write Web also published an interview with Tarandeep Singh Gill who set up the hoax (see here). Gill commented that
"I was really surprised that most media outlets fell for it."
AptiQuant posted a report admitting the study was a hoax. See that admission in this post on AptiQuant.
The admission noted that "there is no company called AptiQuant, and no such survey was ever done" and apologized "if this report hurt your feelings." According to the admission, the "main purpose" of the phony study "was to create awareness about the incompatibilities of IE6."
The AptiQuant statement also apologized to Central Test and stated that "we are in the process of removing [Central Test's information] ASAP."
Central Test issued a statement on the hoax (see here).
Media Outlets Update, Retract Original Stories
The BBC reported on the hoax August 3, noting that it "reported on the research."
However, a StinkyJournalism search of the BBC's website doesn't produce any story on the research save the report on the hoax. StinkyJournalism is writing to the BBC to confirm the BBC unpublished its original story. As StinkyJournalism previously wrote, the BBC unpublished its report on June's dog stoning hoax.
CNet wrote July 29 about the study, which it called "fascinating." That story features an update linking to this follow-up report admitting the hoax.
Mashable reported on the story and added an update and follow-up report when the story was revealed to be a hoax.
The Los Angeles Times reported on the hoax, noting that it wrote about the study. That original story on the study now features an update noting that "the study has been discredited as a hoax."
Forbes' July 31 report on the study now features an update that notes the study was a hoax. PC World New Zealand also retracted its story.
In an August 3 report, CNN noted that it reported on the study and stated that in its initial report CNN "pointed out" problems with the study like "the report was not scientific."