UberFacts is one of the world’s top-ranked Twitter feeds, with just short of 8.8 million followers and its very own app. Unfortunately, most of the “facts” that come out of UberFacts are manipulated evidence, poorly-sourced viral garbage or straight-up lies designed to garner as many retweets and favorites as possible. People have debunked UberFacts before, including a notorious BuzzFeed interview in which Uberfacts founder Kris Sanchez claimed “96–97% of the facts you see on the Twitter account are facts I found on science articles, Google alerts, new studies, anything like that” and denied sending a reporter an email telling him to unsubscribe if he didn’t like it.
So, as an update, I ran an extremely unscientific survey of the UberFacts account’s top 10 tweets of 2014 using FavStar, operating off the theory that these 10 top-ranked posts would be the likeliest the average Twitter user would encounter. (I excluded two for being redundant or unintended to be facts, as well as an additional two that appeared to be the result of a hack).
UberFact cumulatively scored a 4.5/10, or a big fat “F” on our patented Factometer (which is actually totally subjective and slightly bitter). Here they are, in order of least to most popular:
This one appears to be real, the product of 300x magnification performed by Dr. Gary Greenberg in Hawaii. Pretty cool.
This car belongs to a member of Qatar’s ruling family, and actually does appear to be glow in the dark. However, the “Tron” tie-in appears to have been spun from whole air, as it didn’t appear in any of the movies or associated franchises. Ehh.
It’s not officially on the menu, but a Fast Company writer was able to confirm the mythical quesarito’s existence as an off-menu item employees are able to custom-create upon request. However, it doesn’t appear in any company materials.
Factometer:Depressing but true
Google led me to believe that someone spread this viral factoid around with cute pictures of bunnies sometime in 2014, either before it landed on UberFacts or on the whimsy of its creator. As WordReference thread from 2013 concluded, common names for groups of rabbits include “colony, drove, leash, nest, trace, warren.” One WordReference member pointed out, “Nature-lovers or word-lovers make up evocatitive forms acording to their fancy” [sic]. I did find references to the term being used in “Northern Canada,” which I do not care about.
Factometer: Extremely dubious
It’s true. though I think sign #2 is even more alluring.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the smallest cat ever was indeed named Tinker Toy, who was 2.75 inches tall and died in 1997. This is not that cat, which is especially headache-inducing when there’s a perfectly good current day World’s Smallest Cat named named Mr. Peebles UberFacts could have gone with instead.
Factometer: Hahaha are you serious? Come on.
This is true. Some peaches wearing lingerie were sold in packs of nine for about $80 apiece at the Qixi Romantic Festival.
Factometer: True, but don’t get ahead of yourself
Interesting? Potentially. But “life-saving” Undercover Colors is not (yet), because the product hadn’t shipped as of late December. Some advocates said the nail polish had good intentions but wouldn’t actually protect many women. Advocates For Youth’s Sophia Kerby argued that it was a “gimmick” that wouldn’t work, because most date rapists use plain old alcohol and know the victim.
Factometer: Put some more slop in the viral bucket before you scrape the bottom
UberFacts didn’t come up with this one. Ian Steadman of The New Statesman calculated the odds of being bitten in a game with Luis Suarez (1 in 2,000) with the chance of being bitten by a shark (1 in 37 million) or of swimmers at a coastal town getting the business end of Jaws (1 in 800-2,808). It’s a fun comparison, but Steadman didn’t seem to take it too seriously.
“You,” however, are not more likely to be bitten by Suarez than a shark, because you’re not a soccer player playing a match against him. This half-fact also leaves out that it’s kind of a ridiculous comparison. The shark hasn’t been put in the same high-pressure, competitive environment. To come up with real evidence, I propose we put a shark in a swimming pool the size of a soccer field along with Suarez and see who bites first.
Factometer: Super skeptical, pending shark fight
Normally I would have excluded this, but it was UberFacts’ top-ranked post of 2014. Robin Williams did indeed perish in 2014, but “RIP Robin Williams” is not a fact.
Summary: Based on this tiny sample, UberFacts is not a credible resource for facts. It is the Twitter equivalent of a 90s-era chain email with fewer racist anecdotes.
If UberFacts’ facts aren’t facts, then why should you (or 8.8 million people) care?
Also, they plagiarize.