From giant robot statues to 90-member girl bands, Japan brews up odd fads faster than you can say Hello Kitty contact lenses.
So it's hardly surprising that news of a new trend centered on Japanese kids who were licking each other's eyeballs for kicks, and spreading pinkeye (aka conjunctivitis) in the process, made the rounds internationally two months ago. It was just too good to resist.
The trend was reported everywhere from Japan to the U.S., Europe, and Africa by sites from The Huffington Post to The Guardian, the Nigerian Tribune, and CNET sister site CBS News.
But all these sites seem to have fallen for a hoax. And as other recent hoaxes have shown (remember the fake study claiming Internet Explorer users were stupid?), the situation is indicative of an enormous global media appetite for bizarre news from anywhere -- and a digital culture in which information spreads almost instantaneously. But when the source is from a foreign language and culture, it's practically a recipe for fake news.
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