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FAKE NEWS: Smoking Bed Bugs to Get High

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As shared on YouTube, April 8, 2014:
Smoking Bed Bugs to Get High

Netlore Archive: Viral "news video" claims the latest drug-use trend among teens is smoking bed bugs, which purportedly contain a powerful hallucinogen called PH-417.

Via YouTube

Description: Viral video / Hoax
Circulating since: April 2014
Status: FAKE / FALSE

Analysis: This incredibly popular viral video is called "Smoking Bed Bugs to Get High."

It begins with a voice-over narration: "It's a new way to get high, and it's called bed bugs." (Pause.) "That's because it is bed bugs."

Then an alleged user describes what a bed bug high is like: "It made me just feel, you know, like I was walking through wet concrete."

Then it's explained how this shocking new "teen drug" achieves its intoxicating effects: "Bed bugs have a known hallucinogen that if smoked or injected can cause major hallucinations. There's no way to extract that active chemical, known as PH-417, so the entire bug is dried, crushed, and then smoked. And sometimes even injected."

Except none of it is true.

The video is a prank, a homemade mash-up assembled from existing news footage with a real-sounding — but fictitious — narration. Bed bugs are not, in fact, hallucinogenic. While the miniscule insects do produce tiny amounts of certain volatile chemicals associated with mating activities which give them their distinct, "bed buggy" odor, their bodies contain no such substance as "PH-417," and there's no way you can get high by smoking them.

"Smoking Bed Bugs to Get High" is an amusing spoof of those "scary new drugs teenagers are doing" exposés so beloved by the mainstream media. As best I can determine, the video was first uploaded to LiveLeak.com on April 7, 2014 by a user named John Cain, whose profile states, "All of the videos that I post are mine and made by me."

We will take him at his word, and now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Update: John Cain confirmed making the video in a blog post dated April 7, 2014.

Update: "Smoking Bedbugs" Hoax Video Uses Footage From Bogus Dabbing Report - Phoenix New Times reports that the original ABC 15 news segment from which the bed bugs hoax video was assembled had fact-checking issues of its own. Shane Watson, misleading interview footage of whom is seen in both videos, has released a clarifying statement.

Sources and further reading:

Smoking Bed Bugs to Get HIGH (Fake Video)
LiveLeak.com, 7 April 2014

'Dabbing' the New Drug of Choice for Teens? (Real Video)
ABC15 News, 16 September 2013

Smoking Bed Bugs Will Not Get You High
WIRED, 11 April 2014

Bed Bugs (Cimex Lectularius)
About.com: Insects

Bed Bugs: What You Need to Know
About.com: Hotels

Real-Time Measurement of Volatile Chemicals Released by Bed Bugs during Mating Activities
PLOS ONE, 5 December 2012

Last updated 04/14/14

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