An outlandish story about a married couple who turned out to be related was a hoax.

The tale of a husband and wife who found out they were twins when they tried to get IVF treatment tricked several major news publications last week, after appearing on a site purporting to be the ‘Mississippi Herald’ newspaper.

The newspaper website – which only came into existence in November and features mundane local news alongside several outlandish tales – had claimed that the couple were orphaned in a car crash and separately adopted.

After meeting in college, they supposedly got married and only discovered they were twins when they got a DNA test as part of a consultation for IVF fertility treatment.

The story was run on numerous sites, including Fox News, The Sun, Metro, Huffington Post, The Independent, Elite Daily and The Daily Mirror ( also ran a version of the story, which has since been removed).

Fake news site ‘Mississippi Herald’ spread a hoax story about twins getting married last week. There is no printed newspaper by that name, and the site is connected to other fake news sites

Though the identity of the couple could reasonably be withheld for medical privacy reasons, no other corroborating details were provided. 

The story claimed the incident happened in Jackson, Misssissippi and featured several quotes from the supposed doctor who made the discovery. 

However, the august-sounding ‘Mississipi Herald’ doesn’t have any stories more than a week old. There is no printed newspaper by that name, which most closely apes the Mississippi Sun-Herald of Biloxi and the North Mississippi Herald of Water Valley.

A quick glance at the Mississippi Herald’s few days’ worth of stories reveals such real-sounding headlines such as ‘Legal Challenges Over Mississippi’s Death Penalty’. 

But on closer read, that garbled story about the death penalty sounds like a Wikipedia article run through Buy Google Adsense Account – translate: ‘One of the state’s leading carrot reviewers says the suit isn’t went for upsetting capital punishment in Mississippi, just at looking for a superior method for executing individuals.’

The viral story about the twins has more polished prose, but curiously ends with a link to the ‘Florida Sun Post’ for a story (also a hoax) about a man who cut off his own genitals and fed them to an alligator while high on meth.

The Florida Sun Post and the Mississippi Herald share an account code for Google AdSense in their source code, and are part of a network of fake news sites, an investigation by  revealed. 

 about a man losing his testicles while trying to fill a scuba tank with marijuana smoke.

The sites share the same AdSense code with the Denver Inquirer, which in December ran a nearly identical  to the Mississippi Herald, about a married couple discovering they are twins.



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