On 1 May 2016, Facebook users began sharing links to what appeared to be news that Ohio-based Kings Island amusement park was closed through 2020 due to "dangerous rides." Those who clicked through to what appeared to be an article first saw the following text:
Kings Island closed down until 2020. Kings Island will be closed down until 2020 due to the amount of dangerous rides already experienced this year. They say that it may be even longer than that since they are rebuilding ALL roller coasters, water-park rides, & kids zone area.
As is often the case, people tended to share the link without clicking through to the content. Had they done so, they would have quickly spotted the image that almost immediately eclipsed the news of the purported closure of Kings Island:
The web site's sidebar was populated by similar, obvious pranks meant to attract attention on social media:
The mock headline was fabricated via Journific, one of several fake news generator sites which enabled social media users to create shocking (and fake) headlines in order to prank their Facebook friends. But those user-generated pranks frequently escaped their intended audiences and quickly spread on social media.
Most commonly, pranks of that nature involved "news" that popular chain stores or restaurants were closing, but in March 2016 several similar sites started cascades of false rumors involving celebrities moving to small towns.
Days after the Kings Island hoax began spreading, the park advertised season passes on its Facebook page (and clearly had no plans to shut down):