A false report circulating on social media asserts that the U.S. will ban trick-or-treating in 2015 due to an increase in murders on Halloween night.
The website responsible for this false report is Huzlers, which is a self-described “satire” site, posting “satirical entertainment to keep its visitors in a state of disbelief.”
In this brief fictitious account, we read that President Obama and Congress agreed to ban trick-or-treating because of a sharp rise in murders on Halloween night over the past decade. The article cites outrageously bogus murder statistics and fake quotes.
Is Crime Higher on Halloween
In a 2013 article which posed the question, “Does the Crime Rate Spike on Halloween?” the Christian Post cited examples in Atlanta, Washington DC, and Boston. An Atlanta police spokesman said he did not believe Halloween to be more dangerous than other nights. “I would be hesitant to conclude that being Halloween equates to higher crime rate,” the spokesman said. The article points out varying crime stats among different cities on Halloween.
While a Washington DC official provided numbers which showed a decrease in crime on Halloween in 2011 and 2012, Boston had double the crime rate on Halloween. It should be pointed out, though, that crime rates are not necessarily synonymous with murder.
Any topics considered trendy or newsworthy in the mainstream media are subject to satirical interpretations. Halloween, being a popular and much anticipated holiday, seems to be one of the latest themes targeted by satire websites.
Although quite capable of delivering fake viral stories, Huzlers narratives are often derived from the satire of higher quality sites. Two days before the Huzlers article appeared, satire website Daily Currant published a viral story about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie canceling trick-or-treating due to fears of spreading Ebola. This Huzlers variation seems to be an attempt to capitalize on a similar story, yet on a national level.
The story circulating which claims trick-or-treating will be banned beginning in 2015 is false. The false story was published by a fake news website. Crime rates on Halloween vary considerably from city to city, with some areas seeing decreases in crime, and others seeing increases. However, the murder rate on Halloween is not anywhere near the amount cited in the fake article.