It seems that the anonymous message forum "/b/" over at 4chan.org, posted a link to an alleged BBC news article claiming that Oprah Winfrey had been found dead in her home.
However this was merely a well-run prank by someone who reads the /b/ forums. For those not aware, this forum is home to a huge collection of strange and wonderful inside jokes, mind-numbingly offensive images, language and...well, generally everything that clean, white bread Americans would shit a brick over if they spotted it.
In the past few days, 4chan has been responsible for quite a few pranks that have made the news. The first was when a follower of the forum hacked into Republican Vice Presedential candidate Sarah Palin's yahoo email account and posted the information. Shortly after this, FOX news commentator Bill O'Reilly made some remarks about this, to which the members of 4chan then hacked into O'Reilly's website.
And not too long ago, the same anonymous group targeted the "church" of Scientology and plotted their destruction, which got a lot of publicity.
The rumors of Oprah's demise were sparked after a statement Winfrey made on a recent show, defending a United States Senate bill against pedophiles and child rapists. On her show she said that an anonymous comment left on her website stated that a pedophile group had "over 9,000 penises" and were harming children.
However "over 9,000" is one of several phrases or "memes" used a lot by the anonymous 4chan.org forum.
What is interesting about all of this is how the media is attempting to label the anonymous message forum. Most articles about this incident mention that it was caused by "members of a group known as Anonymous." However there is no such organized gathering of nefarious ner-do-wells. The beauty (and horror) of the 4chan message forum is that it is completely anonymous and anyone can post anything they want to the site. But the media can't comprehend that idea, and therefore have to try to categorize the site as some sort of terrorist group.
I'm sure this will be making more headlines in the next few days.
The only problem with this is that with the increased publicity, the forum will come under a great deal of scrutiny. This publicity might force 4chan to actually do something to stop the actions of the forum, which has been a quiet little piece of entertainment nirvana for myself for a long time.