Red-faced media editors are having to explain to their readers that a headline story about ‘dumb’ Internet Explorer 6.0 users has made them look stupid as well.
After the story was run worldwide online and in print by such august news sites as the BBC, CNN, Forbe’s and the Daily Mail, web developer and entrepreneur Tarandeep Gill stepped forward to apologise for perpetrating an elaborate hoax.
The story was a spoof based on made-up statistics aimed at urging web users to update from Internet Explorer 6.0 (IE6) – the decade old browser still used by 10% of the world’s web users even though Microsoft is offering Inter Explorer 9 as a free download.
Gill released a press release through a web site at www.aptiquant.com alleging IE6 users were ‘dumb’ for failing to upgrade because of the security consequences of surfing with the browser – and claimed the IQ of anyone using IE6 was scientifically proven as lower than that of any other web user.
“I agree that this study was a total hoax,” said Gill. “There is no company called Aptiquant, and no such survey was ever done. We are really surprised that it took so long for people to figure it out, a mere ‘WHOIS’ on the domain could have revealed it all.
“This was all meant to be a lighthearted joke. We did not mean to insult anyone, but if we have hurt anybody’s feelings, we apologise for that. What’s really funny is that everybody took the report so seriously, with comments like ‘Oh did we need such a study, we already knew that.’”
He explained the purpose of the scam research was to point out how reliance on IE6 by so many web users was holding back technical innovation.
Microsoft has a campaign to encourage users to upgrade from IE6 to a more modern browser for security reasons.
One of the reasons many worldwide users stick with IE6 instead of upgrading is their computers need an up-to-date operating system to take advantage of the enhanced capabilities of a later browser.
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This post was written by Nadine