the shed

The Shed, London's Fake No.1 Restaurant, Is Helping Lawmakers Decipher Fake News

Our journalism is having an important effect on the world.
April 25, 2018, 9:23am
Left: Singaporean MP Edwin Tong; Right: a foot and a fried egg, by Chris Bethell

This article originally appeared on VICE UK. Remember when our friend Oobah made his shed the best restaurant in London? Last month, that whole thing was discussed incredibly seriously by a special committee of Singaporean lawmakers, who blew up photos of Barry from Eastenders and Oobah's foot on a big screen in their special parliamentary debate room. It's great to see our work finally getting the respect it deserves.

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Some context, for those of you who need it: last year, VICE writer Oobah Butler spent far too much of his own time making the shed he lives in the top-rated restaurant in London. Impressively, when The Shed at Dulwich reached number one on TripAdvisor's "Best in London" list, it had never served a single meal because it wasn't actually a restaurant, just a shed with tons of fake reviews on a travel website. This didn't stop real people from making real phone calls to request a real table, so Oobah eventually opened The Shed for one night only and served everyone microwaved meals decorated with little herbs.

After we published the article revealing it had all been an incredibly long-winded joke, lots of people wanted to speak to Oobah—including Good Morning Britain's Susannah Reid, who called him a "naughty boy" on live television, and a Japanese production company, which made an hour-long show on the whole thing.

Arguably, though, what this was all building up to—what we had all really hoped it would result in—wasn't an interview on morning television, or write-ups by the global press, but this: Singaporean lawmakers discussing it extremely somberly in a special Parliamentary hearing on fake news.

At the first meeting of the newly formed Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods, Mila Pilao—Director of Core Technology Marketing at Trend Micro—was called on to explain exactly how Oobah had fooled TripAdvisor into believing his shed was the best restaurant in London. You can watch the video yourself, but she uses The Shed as a jump-off point to talk about click farms.

Also, Member of Parliament Edwin Tong highlights the photo used on the Shed's TripAdvisor page, of what looks like a fried egg and ham hock, but is, in fact, a fried egg and the side of Oobah's foot. "So he had someone put up a picture like this," says Tong, "which is held together by a foot, but looking quite attractive otherwise."

If you want a reminder of just how attractive that foot was, go ahead and watch the video we made about The Shed below:

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