Viral Playboy Party List Condemning Rape Wasn't Made By Playboy

09/17/2013 09:54 pm ET | Updated Sep 18, 2013

Many people online Tuesday may have thought Playboy had released a new party school guide that condemns campus rape. Others may have believed the Playboy list was picked up by Upworthy, BroBible and The Huffington Post.

But it wasn't. Playboy didn't make the list. And Upworthy, BroBible and HuffPost didn't report on it.

"It definitely wasn't us behind it," Playboy spokeswoman Theresa Hennessey told HuffPost Tuesday.

Playboy usually releases its party schools ranking in September, and Hennessey confirmed the publisher's 2013-14 list will be released soon. But this wasn't it.

The viral article laid out what seemed to be Playboy's overhaul of party school rankings to favor consent in campus relationships:

A good college party is all about everyone having a good time. Consent is all about everyone having a good time. Rape is only a good time if you’re a rapist. And f--- those people.

The fake webpage looks like Playboy's website, but with a partywithplayboy.com address. The mock news articles that seem to be reporting on the Playboy list also look similar to articles on Upworthy, BroBible and The Huffington Post, but with incorrect domains. An editor at BroBible said its employees didn't know about the fake site until someone tweeted about it. The mock HuffPost page used the name of this writer, who doesn't even read Playboy.

Besides the incorrect domain names, the fake sites failed in other ways as copies. For example, HuffPost capitalizes the first letter of each word in news headlines, and doesn't use the comment hosting service Disqus for reader feedback.

Nevertheless, people began tweeting out links to the mock websites, mostly in praise. Some journalists were fooled too, including The Nation columnist Jessica Valenti, who sent a tweet out to her 49,660 Twitter followers praising it:

ThinkProgress picked up the fake Playboy list and touted it as a positive development.

But how did the real journalists find out about the fake Playboy list? Dasha Burns, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, and an intern at an activist group called Force, spent much of Tuesday morning tweeting the fake Playboy link to news websites and writers that cover colleges. Aside from a tweet Monday about the latest Breaking Bad episode, Burns hadn't said anything on Twitter since July 10.

Force describes itself on its website as "a creative activist collaboration to upset the culture of rape and promote a culture of consent." The group pulled a similar viral stunt targeting Victoria's Secret in December 2012, setting up a website PinkLovesConsent.com, which appeared to sell Victoria's Secret clothing embracing consensual sex. The site was fake and was taken down.

Members of Force did not return emails or phone calls Tuesday from HuffPost.

It is unconfirmed that Force was involved in the Playboy hoax. The domains of the fake webpages were registered on Sept. 4 and the computer servers were linked to a company called May First Technology, part of an activist group that provides Web hosting services to progressive groups. May First did not return a request for comment.

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