Readers are likely familiar with online advertisements that make bold and often misleading claims in order to get clicks. The resulting articles usually present slideshows that require a seemingly endless number of "next page" clicks in order to find the answer that was promised in the ad. That answer is sometimes never even revealed.
For example, this ad claimed: "Woman Files For Divorce After Seeing This Photo – Can You See Why?”
The ad led to a 77-page slideshow article. On the last page, it revealed that the whole thing was "a made-up story for entertainment purposes." Yes, you read that right: 77 pages.
The reason why these kinds of ads lead to articles with lots of pages is simple: money. A budget is needed to display the original ads on the internet that lure readers to the long slideshow articles. In order to make that money back and even profit, scammers fill the many pages of their slideshow articles with sometimes hundreds of ads. This is called advertising arbitrage.
We've put together 13 such odd ads that we fact-checked in 2021, and we're going with the novel approach of listing all of them out on a single page.
Note: This page is part of our annual review of Snopes’ content, and you can read all of our “Staff Picks & Standouts” for a variety of content categories here.
Is This a Picture of a Shirtless Donald Trump?
False. We couldn't find out who this man was, but we know for sure it did not show a young Donald Trump. The ad in this story led to a long article that never even mentioned the photo.
Is This a ‘New Animal Species Taking Over Chernobyl’?
Miscaptioned. This ad was misleading. In reality, the picture showed a spectacled (hairless) Andean bear named Dolores.
The Truth Behind the ‘Day at the Beach Gone Wrong’ Photo
False. This photo was a fake of a fake. Whoever created it added a larger wave onto an already doctored picture.
Does Putting a Ziplock Bag Over a Car Mirror Have a Legitimate Purpose?
True. Remarkably, the answer to this one is yes. A bag over a car mirror can keep ice and snow from collecting in cold weather. However, it's unclear if this is something that a lot of drivers are doing.
Should a Bottle Always Be Put on Tires When Parked?
False. We found two ads about this subject. They each led to 50-page slideshow articles. None of the 100 pages mentioned anything about placing a bottle on a tire when parked.
Was Dr. Phil’s Divorce Settlement ‘Finally Revealed’ as $1M?
False. This ad showed Dr. Phil McGraw with his second and current wife, Robin McGraw. They are not divorced. However, the article only mentioned his first wife, Debbie Higgins. We found no credible sources that confirmed they had a $1 million divorce settlement.
Did Lily from the AT&T Commercials ‘Confirm Rumors’?
False. In 2021, several online ads targeted actor Milana Vayntrub with baseless accusations. Vayntrub portrays Lily in AT&T TV commercials. The articles that resulted from the ads never ended up addressing the accusations from the ads.
Can WD-40 Fix Cracked Phone Screens?
False. The ad led to a 43-page article that never even mentioned phones at all. Please don't spray your phones with WD-40.
Do McDonald’s Golden Arches Symbolize a Mother’s Breasts?
True. We told you that these would be odd. Some of them are odd and false. This one is oddly true.
The ‘World’s Loneliest House’: Elliðaey’s Myths Debunked
False. The claim here was that this small Icelandic island has a house with a dark truth about why it's empty. Also, it's said that Björk once lived there. Neither of these was true. We decided to use the opportunity to document the myths of the island.
Did Pipes Sticking Out of the Ground in the Woods Lead to a Discovery Underneath?
True. Two men really did photograph their exploration of the bunker pipes that were sticking out of the ground in northern Germany. However, we recommend reading our story instead of relying on the misleading ad below. The articles that resulted from this ad led to a dramatized story with fictitious names.
Ad Promises WD-40 Trick for Gas Tanks … 70-Page Article Never Mentions It
False. Yes, it's WD-40 again. Please don't spray your gas tank with WD-40. None of the pages in the long article mentioned anything about spraying WD-40 at a car's gas tank.
Should an Empty Toilet Paper Roll or Red Cup Be Placed Under the Toilet Seat at Night?
False. The ad below led to an article that never mentioned why an empty toilet paper roll or red cup should go under a toilet seat at night. If we had to guess, it's possible that placing an empty toilet paper roll under the seat might alert others that there's no toilet paper. However, why "at night," specifically? The article didn't mention this, so we rated the claim as "False."
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