How viral sites work

Recently I was checking what news from Germany is going viral (it’s part of my job) and I noticed that one of the top ten stories involved an elderly man who had found his long-lost wedding ring wrapped around a carrot grown in his garden.

The story appeared on a site called Buzz Flare.

Buzz Flare credits another viral site, UNILAD Tech for the story and the photos.

In fact, UNILAD Tech posted a photo seven months ago on its Facebook site, with only a short text.

It credited the photo to a Reddit user.

Was he the source of all this? No.

What actually happened is that the Reddit user and the viral sites stole an AP story from early November, removed any attribution to AP (because they don’t pay for our service) and tried to pass the image and information off as their own or some third party’s.

Here’s the original story:

Yes, it’s just a story about a ring on a carrot. But this kind of sneaky lifting of stories earns ripoff viral sites like Buzz Flare a few dollars that deserve to go to journalists who actually wrote the story in the first place.

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