On July 17 2022, an Imgur user shared a screenshot of what appeared to be a news article with the shocking headline, “Elderly Couple Accidentally Burns House Down During Sex Game Involving WW2 Flamethrower”:
That post to Imgur included only a title — “I have questions, just not [sure] if I want answers.” It was viewed nearly 150,000 times in its first 24 hours.
A Google search’s top result for the title was not an article, but a post to Facebook in January 2019. The domain of origin (World News Daily Report) was visible in the July 2022 Imgur screenshot, and an item with the same title was available on WorldNewsDailyReport.com; it began:
Sand Springs, Oklahoma | A couple’s sexual game turned horribly wrong this morning, as they accidentally burned their house to the ground with a 75-year old flamethrower.
Firefighters were called on the site around 11:15 this morning after receiving an unusual phone call but could do nothing to save the 45-year old house from being a total loss.
Nancy Brown, the 911 operator who answered the call from 96-year old Maurice Fogerty, says she first thought she was dealing with pranksters when he told her he had “torched the house with napalm while having sex with his wife”.
“He told me he was penetrating his wife with his M1, as usual, but got too excited and activated the flamethrower.”
Underneath the “news report” were comments. Scrolling down to the site’s footer led to a difficult-to-locate disclaimer, which explained that all content published by World News Daily Report is fictional:
World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.
At least one Imgur commenter noted that the story of an elderly couple’s flamethrower “sex game” originated with a “fake news” site, but the post itself did not include the disclaimer in the screenshot. Also not visible in the Imgur screenshot was World News Daily Report’s site logo, which included the tagline “where facts don’t matter.”