Shane Fitzgerald’s Wikipedia Hoax About Maurice Jarre Quote Spreads Far

Posted May 8, 2009

“When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head, that only I can hear,” stated a Wikipedia entry of Maurice Jarre.  Jarre had passed away in March 2009 and a student in Ireland placed the quote there as part of a hoax to see how far it would go.  It went very far in the media.

One of the limitations of being an open source encyclopedia is that it can be an easy target for various hoaxes.  In this case, Ireland University student Shane Fitzgerald added a quote to Maurice Jarre’s Wikipedia page that wasn’t actually true.  Several newspapers ended up printing the quotes and publishing it on their web sites.  Fitzgerald contacted them to let them know it was a hoax, but many of them did not run any sort of retraction.

One thing that I’ve learned about traditional media is that they react similarly to new media.  When a breaking news story hits the Internet it spreads very fast like a virus.  There is limited fact checking taking place every day.

Jarre composed music for films such as Lawrence of Arabia, A Passage to India, Ghost, The Message, and Doctor Zhivago.