Claim: The popular Christmas toy Elf on the Shelf was begun by the National Security Agency.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, December 2014]
Origins: On 15 December 2014, the Duffel Blog published an article claiming notorious leaker Edward Snowden had revealed that the popular Christmas toy 'Elf on the Shelf' was actually a massively successful espionage project run by the National Security Agency:
"It actually started out as a joke," Snowden said in his speech. "Someone photocopied a picture of an elf with the caption 'I'm watching you,' and it just kept moving from cubicle to cubicle. Now, the NSA has an agent inside practically every home with a child in
While the Elf on the Shelf toy may spy on children on behalf of Santa Claus, there is no evidence the information collected by these scouts has ever been shared with the NSA. Furthermore, Edward Snowden's fictitious confession appeared on the Duffel Blog, a web site that spoofs military life and notes in its disclaimer:
Although the Elf on the Shelf is not working for the NSA, at least one professor believes the toy is conditioning children into obeying Big Brother. University of Ontario Institute of Technology professor Laura Pinto published a paper claiming the Elf on the Shelf teaches children they are not entitled to privacy:
Although The Elf on the Shelf has received positive media attention and has been embraced by millions of parents and teachers, it nevertheless represents something disturbing and raises an important question. When parents and teachers bring The Elf on the Shelf into homes and classrooms, are they preparing a generation of children to accept, not question, increasingly intrusive (albeit whimsically packaged) modes of surveillance?
Last updated: 15 December 2014