How the Phuc Dat Bich Facebook hoax fooled the media

The man who shared a photo of a passport on Facebook to prove that his legal name was “Phuc Dat Bich” has admitted that it was all a hoax. But not before major news outlets covered the story. Today, the man wrote in a lengthy Facebook post—since taken down, along with his profile—that he “made a fool out of the media,” and claimed that his real name is “Joe Carr”—or “joker,” if you’re paying attention.

Phuc Dat Bich Facebook post

The trouble with Bich/Carr started around Nov. 20, when news sites started running stories about the Australian man of Vietnamese descent who had to upload a picture of his (purportedly real) passport bearing his (purportedly true) name—Phuc Dat Bich—to get Facebook off his back for having an uncomfortable-sounding name. He claimed his account had been taken down several times because of it.

“Is it because I’m Asian? Is it?” the post, dated January 2015, said.

phuc-dat-bich-passport

At the time, the story added to the growing list of complaints against Facebook for requiring people to display their legal names—an issue that has affected transgender people, native Americans, and other communities who demand the right to display whatever name they want on their online profiles. It makes perfect sense that the story about a man named Phuc Dat Bich spread—it’s about identity politics and the right to be your authentic self. (It’s also, admittedly, pretty funny.) The only problem was that it was a prank.

In today’s Facebook post, Bich/Carr wrote that the idea started as a joke between friends. Facebook, he added, should “understand it is utterly impossible to legitimise a place where there will always be pranksters and tricksters.” He also warned readers about “hungry journalists,” saying that he was able to “con the biggest news sources with ease.”

Some of the news sources quickly pivoted—the BBC published a piece this morning in which the author admits, “I have to admit I fell for the prank by Mr Bich Phuc Joe, or whoever he is.”

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