Fact Check

Teen Dies After 60 Minute Challenge?

A fake news item falsely claimed a teen boy died during a risqué 60-minute social media challenge.

Published May 4, 2016

A teen boy died after participating in a 60-minute masturbation challenge.

On 29 April 2016 the web site News4KTLA published an article reporting that a teen boy died of a heart attack after doing a "60 minute masturbation challenge" on social media:

Chandra Willis has a new warning for parents that you are not going to want to miss – If your children are in their room or in the shower for more than 60 minutes, or if you find your bottles of lotion missing, this could mean that your teen is in danger of a new Internet trend called the ’60 Minute Masturbati0n Challenge.’ Unfortunately for Willis, she had no one to warn her of these telling signs before her 14-year-old son died of a heart attack just last week.

But this wasn’t just any heart attack, it was a Viagra, sexfueled heart attack the no 14-year-old should ever encounter. This new challenge encourages young teens to take the male enhancement drug Viagra in order to “yank it” for 60 minutes straight while doing mini Snapchat video sessions and posting it to their stories. “I had no idea what was going on,” said Willis. “All I knew is that he locked himself in his room a lot and he kept asking me to buy lotion at the store. But the real big clue should have been all the data overages I had a my phone bill last month. He must’ve been filming a lot of videos on snapchat.”

According to his friends, the young man had been doing the challenge over and over again for nearly 5 weeks. “He told me he was stealing Viagra from his grandpa,” said one of the young man’s friends. “I told him he needed to stop before he hurt himself. A four-hour erecti0n can be good for nobody.”

The claim's traction on social media was likely in large part due to the web site's appropriation of Los Angeles-area outlet KTLA's call letters in its name, a trick used by several fake news sites to mimic local news affiliates and lend credence to outlandish stories.

Also, News4KTLA (predictably) has no disclaimer warning readers its content was fabricated — its "About" page says it features "local news for southern Louisiana and the surrounding area." The site is similar to many fly-by-night fake news purveyors using visual and call-letter elements to dupe social media users into spreading misinformation. However, the site managed to spread at least three hoaxes previously: one claiming that a woman cut off a rapist's genitals and fed them to him, another blaming the Flint water crisis on corpses in the river, and a third fabrication involving a Dasani recall over "clear parasites."

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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