CNN fails to see the funny side of student web prank
LONDON – A spoof online news story, in a style created to look like a page from CNN.com, claiming women could reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by performing fellatio regularly has landed its student author in legal trouble.
The web page was developed by Brandon Williamson, a junior at North Carolina State University, and for his student friends and family.
Williamson wrote a humorous news story that claimed to be based on research, which stated "Fellatio may significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer in women", and emailed it to his friends and family.
The veracity of the study was given away, however, by the names of professionals quoted in the piece, including Dr BJ Sooner, Dr Len Lictepeen and Dr Inserter Shafteer.
"Dr Shafteer" is quoted as saying: "Since the emergence of the research, I try to fellate at least once every other night to reduce my chances."
The story, which carried an Associated Press byline, claimed the study had been published by the Journal of Medicine. The page also carried links to pretend CNN stories, as well as the news provider's copyright.
However, once the AP and CNN saw the story, their representatives called the University and threatened legal action for copyright infringement.
To make matters worse, the article was picked up as a real news story by a Chilean and Croatian newspaper, which credited the report to CNN for real.
Williamson, who had thought only his friends would see the piece, said: "I heard that in Korea they had reported it on TV. I was just surprised. I can understand people joking about it in an office, and I guess I think of that as an honour, that people find it funny. I mean it's nice -- I guess they thought I was a good writer."
Although Williamson has modified the offending page, removing the CNN logos, copyright and AP byline, a Google search of "fellatio and breast cancer" still brings up a number of pages of links to the now modified article with the CNN logo and AP copyright still on it.
Williamson admitted to his university's student paper that he has "no proof whatsoever that the two [fellatio and breast cancer] have anything to do with each other", according to a report in the New York Observer.
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