Lukasz Lindell of the Sweedish Day4 blog described plans to seed obviously false and factually unsupported information related to Apple's highly anticipated iPhone 5 to judge how quickly and widely it would be repeated.
The group created a 3D model portraying a new "asymmetric screw," which Lindell described as "a very strange screw where the head was neither a star, tracks, pentalobe or whatever, but a unique form, also very impractical."
The screw created the suggestion that Apple would begin using the "strange screw" to make it more difficult for end users to open up its devices.
The fake story was first posted to Reddit, a site where readers determine the credibility and newsworthiness of various stories by simply agreeing with an up vote or trying to bury them with a down vote.
Within 12 hours, Lindell reported, the fake story was reported by one Apple-oriented website under the headline "Apple May Be Working On A Top Secret Asymmetric Screw To Lock You Out Of Your Devices Forever."
Lindell cited a variety of news sources that all helped to perpetuate the story. AppleInsider declined to cover it.
"We must become more critical of what we read and think ?Is this reasonable?? or 'What?s the origin for this information?' Because it is not the last time any of this data will be upon us," Lindell wrote.
He added, "we just want to say sorry to you who feel cheated, but the meaning behind the experiment may provide a longer-term results, that we become more thoughtful about things we see on the Internet."