In July 2015, a series of photographs purportedly showing a fallen angel who dropped from the skies above London began circulating online.
While some websites correctly noted that the photographs depicted an art installation, others used the images to create a fake news story about a “fallen angel”. The website Trending Stylist claimed that the photographs depicted an angel captured in Texas while Zon News changed the setting to London. One version of the circulating story reads as follows:
A human-like “angel” has fallen out of the skies over London. The extremely human-like creature with what seems to be “angel” wings as arms appears to have fallen from the sky at around 1:50pm this afternoon. The angel-like creature was quickly rushed away by what seemed to be undercover police officers dressed in suits and sunglasses, resembling the characters in the hit movie Men in Black.
TRUTH OR HOAX?
This article is a classic example of a hoax, either intended as a practical joke or malicious deception.
Below are some applications of the ‘hoax verification guidelines’ that INcontext uses to separate the ‘noise from the news’, related particularly to this story:
1. USE COMMON SENSE
Common sense would indicate to any believer that this story is a hoax, but he fascination with angels within Christian circles has paved the way for hoaxes of this nature to be picked up on social media.
The picture of a grey-haired woman should also not only awake our common sense but also our Biblical sense – angels in the Bible are mostly described as mighty warriors. When people in the Bible saw an angel, their typical response was to fall on their faces in fear and awe. In Scripture, angels sometimes appeared as men with unusual features: Daniel saw an angel with arms and legs resembling polished metal and precious stones, and a face like lightning (Daniel 10:5-6); the angel that rolled back the stone from Christ’s tomb was radiating dazzling light (Matthew 28:3; Luke 24:4); and the book of Revelation describes some unusual beings who may be a variety of angel in (Revelation 4:6-8).
2. CLICK ON ANY AVAILABLE LINKS
Clicking on links reveal that the story appears on a number of untrustworthy sites, and the reports of conflicting locations highlight the nature of the hoax. The same angel was reported as being seen in Texas and Beijing.
3. DO A GOOGLE SEARCH
If this was a genuine news story, it would have been reported widely on mainstream media. Any sites running this story as ‘news’ are not reputable sources that could be trusted.
A Google search also reveals the truth behind the image: that is is a “hyper-realistic sculpture” created by Beijing artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu in 2008
A description of the work reads as follows
“Sun Yuan & Peng Yu’s works always start with a paradox. In their recent installations using hyper-realistic sculpture, they reverse their original practice: imagination and mythological subjects penetrate into the realm of everyday life and reality. Angel, a life-size sculpture in fiber-reinforced polymer and silica gel of a fallen angel is typical of this new approach. The angel, an old woman in a white gown and with featherless wings, is lying face-down on the ground; maybe sleeping, maybe dead, but certainly immobile and frozen into an all too realistic image. The supernatural being, now nothing more than an impotent creature, can neither carry out any supreme will nor be of any help to those believing in its existence. The angel is true but ineffective; dreams and hopes are sincere yet vain.”
THE STORY IS CLEARLY A HOAX, AND AS SUCH SHOULD NOT BE PASSED ON OR SHARED ON FACEBOOK.
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