The Hoaxer

Freedom of Speech

Tommaso De Benedetti has been making things up in newspapers, on Facebook, and via tweet for years. Every once in a while, the world's media believe him.  

“I made up interviews with Joseph Ratzinger before he became the Pope, and also Mikhail Gorbachov. I’ve published seventy fake interviews, with writers like Philip Roth, John Grisham, John le Carré, Mario Vargas Llosa. I never did it for the money, and now with Internet hoaxes, of course, I don't earn anything.

In April 2010, an article in the New Yorker revealed my fake stories. People called me the "fake interviewer" and "the liar". I realized that I could no longer be a journalist nor sign an article with my name. No newspaper will never publish me again because someone who invents an interview is not a reliable journalist. Actually, he's not a journalist at all.

At that point I realized that there was another way of doing journalism: a journalism that denounces the mainstream media. In 2011, I created fake Facebook accounts for famous writers: Umberto Eco, Mario Vargas Llosa and many others. Everybody believed them, all the cultural and journalistic world.

From Vargas Llosa’s fake Facebook account, I wrote polemic against the Argentinian government. Vargas Llosa denied what I had written, but my statements went around all the Argentinian media. The media were taking as absolute truth what was written in the social media: the most easily cheatable and uncertain source in the world.

In the end of 2011, I started with fake Twitter accounts. First, a fake Twitter account for Mario Monti. A few days after he had become Italy's Prime Minister, and my fake account collected more 18,000 followers. One of my followers was the real Nicholas Sarkozy.

In January 2012, I created five accounts from five different ministers of the newly appointed Spanish government. I made them say things about economics. A huge polemic resulted within the Spanish government and, according to one Spanish newspaper, this 'brought the Spanish government to the edge of collapse'.

Since then I've announced the death of Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and Bashar al-Assad. For me, it's a game and a demonstration: the press believes everything."