A fake rumour about a new shop opening in Wirral spread like wildfire after mysterious posters were put up in the area.
On Sunday 16 July, posters appeared across Wallasey Village claiming that a new Heron Foods would soon be built on a community park in the area known as Flynn’s Piece on Grove Road.
The posters and the proposals they referenced caused plenty of consternation and concern in the local community.
The posters said, “Say NO! To the construction of Heron Foods on Flynn’s Piece” and appeared outside churches, a bank, and the Aldi store in the village. Unsurprisingly the message soon moved onto social media where the responses dramatically picked up.
But the admins of local Facebook group Wallasey Gossip got wise to the false rumours and removed posts including a photoshopped banner under a Heron Foods logo, which said: “Your new Grove Rd store opens at 9.00am on Thursday 27th September.”
Even the pranksters behind the rumour were taken aback by how quickly things spread and said things ‘really got out of hand’. It was left to local councillors to confirm that the rumours were in fact not true having been contacted by concerned local residents.
The two people behind the practical joke are both from Wallasey and wish remain anonymous.
They have form in this department having previously claimed the former New Brighton pier never existed, that offshore wind turbines created Storm Eunice, and that a vegan was demanding people stop barbecuing meat on the town’s Dips because they didn’t want to breathe in the smoke. They have been spreading fake rumours in local Facebook groups for over ten years.
However, the jokers, who use aliasas Jeremy Guile and Jonald Trump, told the LDRS, “It set a new benchmark for us, it’s one of the great practical jokes of our time. This was a piece of paper with about eight words on it and off we go.”
The pair put up the posters on Saturday morning knowing it would soon make its way over to Wallasey Gossip. People in comments called it “a shock” adding it would lead to “elegant slumming and overinflated rent.”
Others said “what the hell” and “that’s horrendous” while one person said she’d rather have a Lidl.
Another person claimed that Wirral Council’s planning department had just approved it adding, “You can go on their website and see for yourself.” No such records exist and Heron Foods confirmed they were not aware of the site and never had plans for a store there.
Another person said: “Thought this was fake news. Surely it isn’t happening. This is a lovely greenspot. No need for it to be developed.”
One of the pranksters, who is in his early 20s said, “We were very surprised. We did know it would end up on Facebook but we didn’t expect it to be so successful and for so many people to fall for it.
“If we did it again next week, they’d fall for it again and the next one is just around the corner.”
Wallasey councillor Ian Lewis said they received half a dozen emails by Sunday morning from worried neighbours and had to later confirm on Facebook that the story was fake.
Advising people, he said, “I would say the first place to check would be the council’s planning website where you can search by postcode or address so you can see if anything is coming at all.
“If someone tells you something on social media, the first thing you can do is go back and ask them what their source is.”
One of the jokers said the joke showed how quickly people can believe a story, even when there is no evidence to back it up.
He said, “It is absolutely shocking. If you look at the banner, it’s got the Google logo right on the banner. If people want to believe something or already have a gripe with the council, they want to believe it and they want to feel their grievances even if it’s just a piece of paper on a bus stop which is what does it.
“Anyone who has got to the point of emailing councillors may feel silly and think twice. If there is any way for people to learn, it’s a way that gets a laugh.”
He added, “We are far from finished. The next one is in the works and will be just as, if not even funnier.”
An admin of Wallasey Gossip advised people to fact check sensational sounding news they may see on social media and be aware any evidence may be photoshopped.