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Has The Onion gone too far with #CongressHostage story?

A ‘news story’, tweets and now a video falsely claim there is a hostage situation involving young children at the United States Congress building in Washington. It has not gone down well in some quarters.

A photshopped image of House Speaker John Boehner holding a child hostage.
A photshopped image of House Speaker John Boehner holding a child hostage.
Image: Screengrab via The Onion

Updated 7.20pm

SATIRICAL PUBLICATION The Onion has confirmed that tweets, a story and a video in which it is reporting an armed hostage taking place on Capitol Hill in Washington are intentional – although the story is not true.

The story and tweet has caused controversy on Twitter with confusion among some users as to whether the site and Twitter had been hacked.

However, a spokesperson for the company’s offices in New York confirmed to TheJournal.ie that neither the website nor the Twitter account had been hacked and that the story was intended.

Police on Capitol Hill have had to confirm that the tweets are reporting false information and that they are investigating according to local television, WUSA 9.

The publication, renowned for reporting fake stories, often parodying current events, has posted a story which details a fake hostage situation.

It has been updated this evening with a fake video of a child being shot by ‘Democratic congressman Daniel Lipsinki’:

The ‘story’ describes members of the US congress brandishing shotguns and semi-automatic pistols. The Onion ‘reports’ that the members have taken a group of schoolchildren hostage, demanding $12 trillion in cash before 6pm or else they would kill the children.

The ‘story’ first broke in series of tweets posted from The Onion Twitter account:

Updates also appeared on The Onion’s Facebook page.

The ‘story’ also details supposed demands from the congressmen who are said to be led by current House Speaker John Boehner which include: “guaranteed re-election in 2012, reduction of the veto-override threshold from two-thirds to one half of the Senate, new desks, and safe transport to Reagan National Airport with a fueled-up private jet waiting on the runway.”

It also carries a photoshopped picture of Boehner holding a gun to young child’s head alongside a man in a suit wearing a balaclava and holding an AK-47 machine gun:

Users on Twitter haven’t got the joke however.

Richard Gosling tweeted: “This must be a joke in which case, poor taste.” While, Renee Sailors said: ”@TheOnion has just lost a follower. Very bad decision to post”.

More reaction to the ‘story’ on Twitter can be found here.

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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