He is known globally as “Phuc Dat Bich”, the man on a mission to stop Facebook from deleting his page because of his offensive-sounding name. His online tirade with a photograph of a passport that appeared to prove his identity became a viral sensation - but the whole episode took an unexpected turn on Wednesday.
Mr Bich announced through his Facebook account that it was all a hoax – all part of an elaborate ploy to show how the media can be fooled and to bring to light loopholes in the social network’s policies.
He started off his admission thus, “Do you remember the story: The boy who cried wolf? Imagine that boy grew up into a mischievous man with 21st century technology at his finger tips.”
The Australian went on to say, more seriously, he had acted to point out shortcomings in Facebook’s “real name” policy and that the social network needs to “understand that it is utterly impossible to legitimise a place where there will always be tricksters and pranksters”.
He refrained from revealing his true identity, signing the latest post as “Joe Carr”, a possible reference to “joker”.
The post further discussed the credibility of the media: “It’s twisted by hungry journalists who mask the truth...it goes to show that an average joe like myself can con the biggest news sources with ease.”
He said the fake account started off as a joke between friends but “became a prank that made a fool out of the media and brought out the best in the people who reached out to me. It didn’t bring out the anger and darkness that we often see on the internet, but it brought a levity and humanity in a time we need it most.”
The post that made global headlines was first posted in January but went viral just a month ago. Alongside a photograph of the passport, he wrote he had been accused of using a “false and misleading name”.
“Is it because I’m Asian? Is it,” he snapped , garnering more than 165K likes and being shared nearly 85K times.
The prankster thanked those who were supportive and encouraged those who truly have “culturally specific and spectacular names” to “ignore the ignorance in those who may try to put you down”.
The revelation, like the original post, kicked up another storm on social media, with one Twitter user exclaiming: “Is nothing sacred anymore.’
Is nothing sacred anymore? https://t.co/pOo98pqIPQ— Sahil Rizwan (@SahilRiz) November 25, 2015
Others complimented the prankster, who was outed by a Facebook friend as a man named Tin Le, for testing online news outlets.
Well done, Entire Online News Industry, on not going the research and getting trolled last week: https://t.co/JEULXkTWyB— Chris Thilk (@ChrisThilk) November 25, 2015