How Savvy are Your Students?: 7 Fake Websites to Really Test Their Evaluation Skills


Looking to test your students’ capabilities at figuring out if a website is real or not? Use these fake websites to help, but be careful! Looks may deceive you! Some of these sites are tougher to catch than others.

GenoChoice: Create Your Own Genetically Healthy Child Online

GenoChoice gives parents the opportunity to genetically modify their future child’s DNA to prevent diseases and health issues. It’s essentially a service that allows parents to create the “perfect child.” While there aren’t many links on the site, GenoChoice states that it is affiliated with “RYT Hospital”. Upon clicking on the RYT Hospital link, viewers are directed to a hospital website that is quite official looking at first glance.

The giveaway? Many of the links do not work, both on GenoChoice and RYT Hospital’s site. In addition, RYT Hospital cannot be found on a map or a simple Google search. There is also a feature on the site where readers can place their thumb on the screen for a DNA scan. This is not possible!

Buy an Ancestor Online

Ever wish you were related to a famous person? Have you ever tried to produce your family tree, but came up empty handed? Buy an Ancestor Online provides you with the ability to purchase an ancestor, “complete with authenticating documents.” With daily hot deals and monthly specials, this site can provide you with the missing link in your family tree that you’ve always dreamed of.

The giveaway? The site not only looks outdated, but it was last updated in 2012. There is also very little information on the founder, Bob Fulkerson, and the site is maintained by the “Losing Proposition Company.” The real giveaway? Reviews placed on the site by so-called “expert genealogists,” state that it’s all a scam and it will bring in some “REAL suckers.”

Dog Island

A beautiful sanctuary for our four-legged friends, Dog Island is home to 2,500 dogs. All are able to roam free and enjoy a peaceful life among their furry friends. With man-made caves as shelters, plenty of rabbits and other wildlife to feed on, and separate islands for dogs of similar sizes, families can send their dogs to Dog Island to live happily in this oasis, for free.

The giveaway? While a Google search shows that Dog Island is the name of a real island off the coast of Florida, numerous grammatical errors throughout the Frequently Asked Questions page raises red flags about the validity of the website. Want to visit their main office? Due to protesters who oppose Dog Island, “we’ve had to make our land office a maze to get to.” The directions to the office involve solving a cryptic puzzle.

Mankato, Minnesota

Nestled in the heart of the midwest, Mankato Minnesota boasts itself as a “hidden vacation Mecca.” It sits on the “Sclare/Far Fissure,” which is a phenomenon that turns the air temperature to a 70 degree paradise…all year long. With tons of pages and links to back up their claim and five-star reviews from newspapers, this site could easily convince someone about this magical paradise in Minnesota.

The giveaway? The site looks outdated, with colorful, flashy images and banners. A Google search of Mankato, Minnesota pulls up the city’s official homepage, which shows that it is currently 32 degrees, a far cry from the 70 degrees that the hoax site claims.

The Ova Prima Foundation

Which came first? The chicken or the egg? The Ova Prima Foundation is on a mission to find out. This non-profit agency’s site is quite convincing. All links work and the site includes information regarding the mission, history, and abstracts and citations of research papers associated with the foundation. There are even lesson plans for educators who are looking to teach chicken or the egg theories.

The giveaway? Doing a quick search on the author and the company pulls up a ton of results showcasing that website as a hoax. In addition, the term, “ovaprimatological,” is used throughout, which is not a real word. While it’s convincing to see the research abstracts and citations, all are missing dates.

All About Explorers

This beautifully designed website seems like the perfect place for elementary and middle school students to find information about famous explorers. With many of the world’s most famous explorers featured, this site is easy for students to navigate, includes lesson plans for teachers, and information about the authors.

The giveaway? All About Explorers’ mission is to teach students to check their facts with a second source, so the site is riddled with tons of incorrect information. It states that, “Christopher Columbus was born in 1951 in Sydney, Australia.” and that Juan Ponce de Leon, “was hired by Revlon, a cosmetic company, to search for the Fountain of Youth (a body of water that would enable you to look young forever).”

In addition to incorrect information about the explorers, the biographies about the authors contain numerous inaccuracies. Their chief researcher worked at the University of Demiglace-on-Seine, which isn’t a real school and it states that the webmaster has, “visited six of the seven major continents and a few minor ones as well.”

Save the Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

Probably the toughest website to catch as a fake, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus site is beautifully designed, all links work, and the author’s information is available with a link to his regularly updated blog. There is even an online store where readers can purchase mugs, shirts, and stickers, all displaying images of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus!

The giveaway? A quick search of the affiliated school, “Kelvnic University,” and the “Wild Haggis Conservation Society,” brings up quite a few websites that state them as fake. In addition, the author states that sasquatch is a natural predator to the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.

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About the Author

Michele Kirschenbaum

Michele Kirschenbaum is the in-house librarian at EasyBib. You can find her here on Twitter.