No, the Saudi king is not buying Facebook

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Dozens of middle eastern newspapers and blogs have falled for a spoof article suggesting that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is planning to buy Facebook.

Dawn Wires reported that, upset at the way Facebook has been used to fuel popular revolt, King Abdullah was offering $150 billion to buy up the company - and close it down. The deal was being handled by Goldman Sachs, it said.

'Sources' told Dawn Wires that the decision was made after Mark Zuckerberg reneged on a promise to ban revolt-related pages on the site.

"Had he seen the movie Social Network, he would have been better advised than to trust Zuckerberg," the article's author wrote.

The beautifully-executed spoof ended up with the following statement: "Sunday Humor article at Dawnwires.com are meant to humor our readers. They may or may not be the truth."

But it seems not everybody bothered to read that far.

Many commenters on the article took it literally: "Even if they close Facebook, we will continue to revolt, no matter what. Enough is enough," said one.

"Our country has been sold out Enough,Their shouldn't be a price on Everything..Consider the Implications..The control of Our freedoms Will be Limited.If this Happens!!!!" says another.

Others argue about the merits of Zuckerberg taking the money, then starting a Facebook clone.

Rather more worryingly, though, several mainstream newspapers and online titles picked up the story and ran with it as fact. Indeed, the Tehran Times, Ahlul Bayt News Agency and some others reprinted the article almost word for word.

Rather pleasingly, though, they didn't even credit Dawn Wires as their source - leaving them with even more egg on their faces.