Anyone who followed the story of “Gemma Sheridan,” the British woman who news-hound.org claimed was stranded on a desert island for seven years before being rescued thanks to Google Earth, knows that news-hound.org pulled a fast one on them. While the story was absolutely a hoax, the name “Gemma Sheridan” didn’t come out of thin air.
According to a real woman named Gemma Sheridan, whose Twitter tagline interestingly reads, “Who is she? Where did you find her?," news-hound.org may have made this up about her "as a joke." She told International Business Times that her friend owns the news-hound.org website, which is known for fooling people with fake stories, such as the Gemma Sheridan-Google Earth article that went viral earlier this week.
@HowardKoplowitz Hi Howard My friend owns newshound so I think they may have made this up about me as a joke haha
â€” Gemma Sheridan (@gemgemsgemmagem) March 21, 2014
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News-hound.org’s Twitter account favorited the tweet, which suggests the real Gemma Sheridan’s claim may indeed be accurate.
The story on news-hound.org claimed a woman named Gemma Sheridan planned to sail to Hawaii, but her boat got caught in a storm near the Panama Canal and wound up on a desert island. The story also claimed that Sheridan was stranded for seven years on the island, where she wrote an S.O.S. sign in the sand, which was eventually noticed by a boy using Google Earth, which lead to Sheridan’s rescue.
While some commenters on the story were wowed by “Gemma Sheridan’s” ordeal, others were skeptical. It didn’t take long for hoax-debunking website Waffles at Noon to discredit the phony article. The site pointed out out that the photo of the S.O.S. sign was actually a Google Earth image from Kyrgyzstan taken in 2010.
Also, the story didn’t appear on any reputable news website, and there weren’t any previous stories alluding to the plight of a Gemma Sheridan at the time of the supposed shipwreck. Then there’s also text from the news-hound.org article that's very similar to language in an article by the Daily Mail involving the true story of Ed Stafford, who explored the Amazon and survived for 60 days on a desert island in the Pacific.