This article originally appeared on VICE US
In March 2016, just as we were all being slowly dragged into the Dumbest Timeline, a website called Empire News published a piece with the headline "New York City Restaurant Becomes First to Get License to Serve Human Flesh." In the paragraphs that were posted below a stock photo of a smiling chef, the site said that the restaurant, called SKIN, had been granted its license after "petitioning the state and federal governments over laws against cannibalism."
Empire News quoted the restaurant's "four-star Michelin chef" who said that he would pay a decent price to anyone who would be willing to donate their bodies to be eaten by his customers. This, as you've already figured out by now, is total bullshit. For starters, Michelin's top honor is three stars, not four, and for next-ers, none of this has happened, nor will it ever happen—but that didn't stop people from believing it.
"OMG. I'll totally become vegetarian. Where is this world coming to??" one woman commented. "First the elites have a CA cannibal restaurant and now NY is getting an actual LICENSE to do this," another added. " We are snowballing into hell at break-neck speed folks!"
One of the story's gullible victims was another website called Elite News Press, which seems to be based in Uganda. On Thursday, it copied and pasted the full text of the Empire News piece, and even used the same stock chef pic. As a result, the "LORD, THEY'RE EATIN PEOPLE IN NYC" thing has made its way around the internet again, probably thanks to people like your least favorite uncle, the one who will try to find a way to bring up Benghazi during the Thanksgiving meal.
Within a few hours, Snopes had done its best to debunk the story again, pointing out that it was "Labeled Satire" on the Empire News site. "This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events," it wrote. "The article originated with a website that describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature, as follows: 'Empire News is intended for entertainment purposes only. Our website and social media content uses only fictional names, except in cases of public figure and celebrity parody or satirization.'"
That text is in the 'About/Disclaimer' section of Empire News, and it appears at the foot of every page—although it's still slightly terrifying that someone would even need a disclaimer to determine that everything it publishes is total fiction.
Some of the posts that are currently on the site's front page include "Woman Gets Pregnant After Sleeping in Hotel with Dirty Sheets," "Ringling Bros. Shuts Down Circus Event After Trapeze Artist Accidentally Defecates on Audience," and "Cats are Superior to Dogs in Every Way, New Study by Cat Scientist Confirms"—and that one is accompanied by a photo of a man with a cat's head staring intently at a DNA helix.
So, for what should be the last time, no, a restaurant called SKIN is not serving human flesh in New York City. And no, your uncle shouldn't have a Facebook account either.