Sorry Charlie: Nobody DIED from the demon-summoning challenge

Fake news sites are a menace. They hide their disclaimers well, but even if they had disclaimers right up front, you could bet many readers would not notice them and still believe the crazy stories and pass them on as real. Especially if the stories appear shocking and fit with the person’s personal beliefs.

The Charlie Charlie Challenge was an incredibly popular subject of news in May 2015. It’s not quite clear how the fictional story of summoning a Mexican demon with pencils became so popular. Every kid knew about it. It received HUGE hits here on DN and brought many comments from apparently younger readers about how they thought it was real and were scared.

Since then, there have been multiple stories about kids KILLED after doing the challenge. Are they true? No. They are on fake news news sites. Let’s take a look at them.

This story comes from a site called NewsWatch 33:

A 17 year old girl suffered a fatal brain aneurysm after doing the latest viral craze. The young girl was attempting the newest occultist social media trend, referred to as the Charlie Challenge, in which participants attempt to summon an ancient Mexican demon.

The story is not dated but the comments are recent. No writer or reporter is credited. You can not copy and quote the text. This is deliberate, written into the code of the site. It also prohibits copying pictures. Why? Maybe because it’s a lie…

But here is the rest of the story, screencapped.

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 3.23.09 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-04 at 3.23.26 PM

Along with the lack of location and context missing from what a legitimate news story would have, and the rather obvious contrived writing, all the way at the bottom of the page (who really looks there?), you will find that NewsWatch33 provides “shocking global news headlines” and are looking for writers to “create content”. No mention of actual news as part of those headlines and “create,” in this case, means to make up. In other words, this is like the Weekly World News – pure fiction.

According to tipster Anna Hill, the NewsWatch33 site is a continuation of site “NewsWatch28” that has ridiculous headlines such as “82-year-old man eaten by pigeons in Alabama” and “NASA discovers new planet covered with marijuana”. Facebook is attempting to crack down on these sites since people post the fake news and it is accepted as true and propagates.

A quick check reveals NO OTHER source for this story. Such simple checking is the first thing I do to verify the legitimacy of the story. Along with the other clues, it’s clear this story is false. But the pictures of a bloody bed, a young woman, and a police scene were more than enough to convince many commenters that it was indeed real. They chastised the web site for giving directions on how to summon the demon as if it’s a recipe for others to die!

One commenter writes:

The very fact that you’ve explained how to do part of this, and where to find the rest, shows that you do not care for the safety of others, foolish enough to try it out of sheer boredom. You’re contributing to the problem, not to the solution, and should be ashamed of this article.

Not very many believe in God the Father anymore, that much is clear. But in doing this, you are encouraging his anger. That being said, if you don’t believe in God the Father, you couldn’t possibly believe in the Devil, but he sure believes in you. And to titillate the idea that he isn’t real, invites demonic forces into ones life.

Others follow suit and only 2 or 3 show any doubt. Are these commenters even real?

Curious to see if there were any other reports of a death via the “CCC”, I found what might be the antecedent to this NewsWatch33 story – from The News Nerd: Girl Dies Doing Charlie Demon Challenge Social Craze. This one at least had a date, May 28, right when the CCC was hot stuff. Curiously, it was also near Atlanta:

Rebecca Southerland of Marietta, a suburb North of Atlanta, was found deceased Wednesday (May 27) evening. Initial reports revealed the teen went into cardiac arrest after being frightened. Doctors say a sudden rush of adrenaline caused her heart to malfunction. Southerland was participating in the Charlie Challenge with two other girls before her fatal accident. The teens stated that they heard voices and felt something touching them. They revealed Southerland began to scream before falling over motionless.

Another quick check. No other sources except a copycat. But News Nerd is a bit more clear in their intent: “The stories posted on TheNewsNerd are for entertainment purposes only. The stories may mimic articles found in the headlines, but rest assured they are purely satirical.” But this is again at the bottom of the page. If the piece is used for a story on any mystery mongering site, this part will be left out and people will lose that context.

Also in May, this from a entertainment blog that some people who don’t look closely enough, could take to be truthful.

This morning, 911 respondents were dispatched to a Missouri home, after having received a desperate call from a teenager who was claiming that her friend, a 15-year old boy, was “choking on nothing”.  Upon arrival, the ambulance crew found the boy already dead, with two friends trying in vain to revive him. The ambulance crew were puzzled, unable to determine the cause of death.When police arrived at the scene and started questioning the two friends, they told a bone-chilling story of having played the Charlie Charlie Challenge, asking the supposed demon “Am I going to die today?” The pen had spun around to land on the “yes” box and only about a minute later, the boy who had asked the question, began sputtering and choking.

Source: thestatelyharold | Teen mysteriously dies after doing the Charlie Charlie Challenge

Here are more fake news examples:

According to reports, nearly 50 people across the United States have died within six days of playing the dangerous game of charlie challenge.

Source: People Mysteriously Dying After “Charlie, Charlie Challenge” 

Then, this:

According to reports, nearly 500 people across the United States have died within six days of playing the challenge.

Source: Several Unexplained Deaths Reported Days After Playing The “Charlie, Charlie Challenge”

Are you laughing out loud yet!? Not 500, not 50, not even one report. None.

Here’s another site, exactly the same format as NewsWatch33 called Huzlers:

Don’t Do The Charlie Charlie Challenge: 3 Teens Claim Charlie Demon Raped And Beat Them

False. The Inquisitr reports on this hoax but does rather a poor job at it.

If demons were actually doing this, it would really be news. But they aren’t, they don’t exist, this is superstition and a kids dare game for thrills. It’s possible that someone with a previous health condition and who really believed in demons could fall ill during such an event but it’s unlikely and so far, has not happened. But it would not be caused by any demon.

The bottom line is —

The Charlie Charlie Challenge does NOT conjure demons and kids have NOT died doing it. I wonder how many people read all the way to the bottom here. Fake news sites suck because too many people are gullible.

  8 comments for “Sorry Charlie: Nobody DIED from the demon-summoning challenge

  1. jockmcdock
    July 4, 2015 at 7:21 PM

    Excuse my ignorance, but is “Charlie” even a name in Mexico? Sounds very British to me.

    Edit: I know “Charles” is a name not unique to GB (Charles Aznavour, for example).

  2. One Eyed Jack
    July 5, 2015 at 3:50 AM

    When I started seeing TV adds for “The Gallows”, I suspected that the CCC thing was viral marketing. “The Gallows” is about a group of teens that break into a school and are subsequently hunted by the spirit of a dead student, Charlie Grimmel (sp?). Saying his name invokes his spirit.

    E! had a piece on this June 1st. http://www.eonline.com/news/661822/we-ve-been-duped-the-charlie-charlie-challenge-might-have-been-a-horror-movie-marketing-campaign

    As did the Daily Dot http://www.dailydot.com/entertainment/charlie-charlie-challenge-gallows-marketing-stunt/

    and Project Casting Calls http://www.projectcasting.com/news/charlie-charlie-challenge-fake/

    Note that all these stories are from entertainment outlets and published the same day, June 1st. It seems evident that both the CCC viral stunt and the subsequent “reveal” were a coordinated marketing campaign.

    I would have mentioned this before, but I thought DN already covered the marketing angle.

  3. Eric
    July 5, 2015 at 10:10 AM

    That was my first thought when I heard of this – viral marketing!! Just a little to suspect that both have the name “Charlie”. I also thought it was strange that something happening in Mexico had an English name!!

  4. July 5, 2015 at 12:26 PM

    I’m still not sure that the Gallows thing didn’t just capitalize on the viral nature of it a few weeks earlier. Previous promotion for the Gallows didn’t hint at this angle.

  5. Shell
    July 5, 2015 at 12:47 PM

    Jock and Eric, you’re both guilty of the not-reading-all-the-way problem, which is one of the reasons people fall for these stupid stories. Nothing was said to indicate the girls were in Mexico when this happened, in fact both Stone Mountain and Marietta are outside of Atlanta – in the U.S.A.

    We have a lot of Hispanic immigrants in Georgia, but we aren’t Mexico.

    And neither case made the news here. Gosh, I wonder why?

  6. One Eyed Jack
    July 5, 2015 at 5:15 PM

    That is certainly possible, but it seems a bit too coincidental.

  7. July 5, 2015 at 5:50 PM

    They were referring to the original CCC craze, not these supposed deaths. As indicated, this story was well covered on DN back in May. The reverberations STILL remain.

    And, I also say in my post how it didn’t make the news. Please read more carefully before posting a comment. Thanks.

  8. July 5, 2015 at 7:00 PM

    Since I’ve been on a Fake News rant for a couple years ago, this is further evidence of the pernicious nature of that stuff. It’s been pointed out to me that the Fake Newsies typically give away their game either by posting disclaimers or by the foolish names of their publications. But as this DN item shows, the disclaimers are not always clear and prominent, much less the publication names.

    I suspect (and have heard from others) that the Fakies make their money off of clicks and shares, so the more they trick and induce people into clicking and sharing, the more ad revenue they can generate from their nonsense. (That is, it’s not simply an exercise in entertainment.) And since a lot of online news aggregators (not to mention Facebook posters) simply feature headlines, often with teaser ellipses (. . .), it’s not surprising that readers don’t see the booby trap right away.

    By the way, I think the reply to Shell was maybe just a tad harsh. I’m not sure if she’s a regular contributor (I haven’t noticed many comments) so it’s nice to see a new face here. I usually try to read the DN items that I’m interested all the way through, but I have to admit that I sometimes scan a bit too.

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