On May 28th 2014, the most read story on the website of British daily newspaper The Daily Mirror reported that the so-called ‘virgin killer’, Elliot Rodger, was hooked on bodybuilding supplement creatine. Creatine supposedly made him slip into a dark mood and was responsible for the sinister thoughts that resulted in the deadly rampage. The story was later picked up by The Daily Mail, The Herald Sun, and news.com.au, among others, and continues to spread to large media outlets as of his writing. It even made it into The Daily Mirror’s print edition, pictured below. Only the story was a complete fabrication.
Internet trolls proved once again that nothing is sacred as they found a way to hijack the tragic killings news for their own entertainment. It started when a reporter with The Daily Mirror named Emma contacted a man named Chris Akin on Facebook and asked him if he knew Elliot Rodger. Akin is a Facebook friend of a fake profile posing as Elliot Rodger. Akin and Rodger have a mutual friend named Hugh Woatmeigh. Hugh is also a fake profile dedicated to a young man who supposedly died (more on that later).
Akin saw an opportunity to entertain his fellow internet trolls and couldn’t pass it up. He responded with an elaborate fictional story about how he knew Rodger and had traveled with him to Russia. There they supposedly witnessed the accidental death of their friend Hugh (see images below for a screenshot of their conversation on Facebook).
Akin boasted about his exploits on bodybuilding forum Fitmisc.com under the username ghettocandyman. “I made it on the news,” he said in one of his posts (link, google cache). What followed is a torrent of accolades.
To understand how such elaborate trolling is possible, it’s necessary to examine the underground culture of bodybuilding forums. Since steroids are illegal in the United States, users have come to refer to them as ‘creatine’. This new meaning originated on Bodybuilding.com’s forums and is sometimes used as a form of derision since creatine does not have the androgenic-anabolic properties of steroids. Chris thought it would be funny to claim that Elliot Rodger was on creatine in order to gain muscle, and that creatine caused mental side effects normally associated with steroids. The side effects are colloquially known as ‘roid rage’, and creatine does not cause them. The double entendre is something only a veteran troll can understand, and there are thousands of them populating the forums.
What precipitated the reporters’ error is the fact that Hugh Woatmeigh’s Facebook profile seems legitimate, complete with videos from ‘friends’ who mourned his tragic death. Only Hugh never existed. The name Hugh Woatmeigh is a homophone of the popular meme ‘U WOT M8’ which translates to ‘You what, mate?’ The meme is posted frequently on bodybuilding forums and elsewhere to express surprise.
The trolls hurled a large amount of misinformation at the reporters. With deadlines looming and facts being very hard to verify, The Daily Mirror decided to publish an ‘Exclusive’.
There will likely be no repercussions for the trolls; they simply will continue trolling. “Elliot Rodger was a hero. Praise the martyr incel,” says Bodybuilding.com user theheroofall, as he calls for others to follow Rodger’s path. (link to google cache)