Harry Potter

A hoax has been making its way around the internet from fake news outlet JTHX News. They've created an elaborate news story that checks off a lot of the right signs on Google's "Truth" algorithm to get a top spot on the search engine for Harry Potter Go. The only thing is, there is no Harry Potter Go.

Gizmodo did a little fact checking after multiples sites started reporting on a supposed quote that JTHX News claimed they pulled from an IGN interview with Niantic Labs' Marcus Figueroa. The JTHX story reported that the developers of Pokemon Go are working on a Harry Potter game. Except, there doesn't appear to be a Marcus Figueroa working for Niantic Labs. The only notable Figueroa under that name is from Perth, Australia and has no known association with the development studio.

There's also no IGN interview in their database with a Marcus Figueroa. Gizmodo further clarified that the reason there is no interview to be found and the reason Figueroa can't be tracked down is because none of it exists.

JTHX News is known for making fake news. They follow all the rules for getting a good index rating on the search results for high page ranking, but the news is all fake, including a report about the PBS television show Arthur being turned into a porno.

If you visit the official JTHX News home page there's nothing there... just ads.

You also can't navigate the site.

So how did the news spread that Niantic was working on a new Harry Potter mobile game when none of the sources check out and the original report is from a site that makes up fake news for ad views? Well, because some websites picked up the news from JTHX News and began reporting on it as if it were fact. There was no fact checking done.

This is how a lot of other hoaxes get out there to the mainstream audiences, which can be very dangerous when the information is incorrect or false. This sometimes happens a lot in the gaming industry, especially two years ago when a game of telephone occurred between media outlets reiterating false information about the gaming industry based on information that was easily debunked.

Nevertheless, it took Gizmodo and a few other websites to make it known that the JTHX News source was false; that IGN did not conduct an interview with a senior developer at Niantic Labs and there is no official news about Harry Potter Go being in development.

As pointed out by Gizmodo, almost all the Niantic Labs news comes from their CEO John Hanke; he's their PR front man. Developers have to get a sign-off from upper management if they're going to do any sort of interviews, even with big publications like IGN. Given how much money and market valuation surrounds Niantic's Pokemon Go, it's unlikely that they would have anyone other than Hanke do most of the PR for the game (even Nintendo announcing that they only have a minor stake in Pokemon Go led to their stock taking a massive dive).

Given that Niantic is neck deep in trying to maintain the server stability for Pokemon Go and the company still has yet to roll the app out in all of its scheduled territories, it's hard to imagine that they would pick a brand like Harry Potter to get a fully working app out by early 2017 when it looks like Pokemon Go will likely still be undergoing iterative updates up to and through early 2017. But that's all beside the point. The original news about the developer working on the property has turned out to be nothing more than a hoax.

Despite the news being fake, whoever owns the JTHX News site likely got a lot of ad revenue out of their little scheme.

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