Liberal Satirist’s ‘Gorilla Channel’ Tweet Backfires Spectacularly

Joke excerpt from Michael Wolff's already controversial book showed how quickly 'fake news' is believed by some on social media

by Michele Blood | Updated 08 Jan 2018 at 10:54 AM

The day before the release of Michael Wolff’s disputed account of his alleged time inside the White House, comedy-based Twitter user @PixelatedBoat released a tweet claiming, “This extract from Wolff’s book is a shocking insight into Trump’s mind.”

The hoax excerpt summarized the “actions” of President Donald Trump and his staff when the commander-in-chief supposedly asked to watch “the Gorilla Channel.” The staffers were said to have created a “channel” for him from gorilla documentaries, compiling 17 hours of curated clips of fighting gorillas.

The only problem was this: Some followers of @PixelatedBoat weren't in on the joke.

The obviously fake excerpt generated literally thousands and thousands of retweets and likes. The "excerpt" was so widely retweeted and discussed, in fact, that Twitter made it one of its trending "moments."

Some leftists were so eager to believe the satire that they abandoned common sense and spread the excerpt  — which offers real insight into how fake news about the president spreads and is so quickly believed by some.

"This is scarier than s*** knowing this human being has the capability to use nuclear weapons. I shuddered and got chills. OMG OMG OMG," tweeted user @cdelbrocco.

Known as "OneGiantHand" on Tumblr and Instagram, the originator of the tweet intended the whole thing as a joke. The tweet garnered so much attention — of the unintended variety — that @PixelatedBoat changed its Twitter display name to "the gorilla channel thing is a joke."

After realizing that some folks on social media were (and are) incapable of distinguishing between news and satire, the originator offered his/her own response in the original thread that read, "tfw you parody a guy making up s*** about Trump but people believe it so you become part of the problem."

When a thread respondent joked about wanting a real gorilla channel, Spectrum, a television, internet, and voice service provider, offered its own contribution — giving the first user guidance on how to go about requesting new channels. Downthread, Spectrum notes that it, too, was joking. (Spectrum is part of cable company Charter Communications.)

Netflix wasn't far behind. The company jokingly implored its nearly 4.5 million followers to stop phoning their customer service hotline asking about the Gorilla Channel.

Some retweeters and commenters understood the joke — while others didn't catch on quite as fast.

The moral of the story? It's the same as it has been since the dawn of the 140-character (now 280) microblogging service, and one everyone would be wise to heed: Think before you tweet!

Michele Blood is a freelance writer based in Flemington, New Jersey. 

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