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Image: "Jenny"
theChive.com
Elyse Porterfield as "Jenny." (This didn't actually happen.)
Helen Popkin
By
msnbc.com
updated 8/12/2010 12:59:54 PM ET 2010-08-12T16:59:54

Two days after the "Dry Erase Board Hoax" hit the Web, people still want to believe — believe that a young woman quit her office assistant job via dry erase board, giving notice while revealing her boss's sexism and the 19.7 hours he wasted each week playing FarmVille.

Photo aggregation website theChive.com first posted the story of "Jenny" on Aug. 10 after it "received" the photos "from a person who works with this girl," and the rest of the Internet ran with it. Even now, people are logging onto Facebook and Twitter to find out, "Jenny" is actually Elyse Porterfield — an actor hired by theChive.com owners, brothers Leo and John Resig. She stars in what would become their third successful viral hoax on most of the media — and the Internet at large.

"I want somebody who was approachable and expressive and sort of sexy at the same time," John Resig said in an interview with TechCrunchTV. Score! According to Resig, theChive.com planned and prepared the hoax a month before JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater flourished his way out of a job on Aug. 9. That the hoax coincided with Slater's slide into unemployment probably went a long way into priming our gullibility for another spectacular resignation story.

The cathartic tale of "Dry Erase Board Girl" hit Digg on Aug. 10, and spread quickly to media websites including TechCrunch (the website where the fictional evil boss spent 5.3 hours a week, according to the story told on the dry erase board), Mashable, Gawker media blogs, the Huffington Post, New York magazine and The Atlantic.

By the following day, the hoax had soared to the top of Google and Twitter trends, and a group of Facebook pages popped up to honor "Dry Erase Board Girl." It wasPeter Kafka at All Things D who publically called shenanigans, causing the rest of the media, and eventually Facebook and Twitter, to slap their heads, collectively chagrined.

Nicely done, to be sure. While Resig and company should send Serendipity a muffin basket just to be safe, this group of pranksters obviously understands the zeitgeist and how to get the media, along with everyone else, to fall for a joke. But can they get us again?

Before "Dry Erase Board Girl," theChive.com had two successful hoaxes under its viral belt. Perhaps you remember hearing about a girl who accidentally texted her father about losing her virginity? That sad-trombone of a meme went everywhere in 2008, even though it was merely the product of the Resig brothers' imagination. A year before, when Donald Trump allegedly left a $10,000 tip for an $82.27 bill? Yeah, that was the Resig brothers too.

"The last time we pulled the teen texting disaster hoax, we were told 'You'll never get mainstream media again,'" John Resig told TechCrunchTV. That didn't stop the pranksters from effectively pulling off this one. Resig said when the timing's right, he's pretty sure they can pull it off again. Citing what he believed help grease the hoax wheels — lack of due diligence —Resig pointed out that this time, the team didn't need mainstream media to make this happen. They had a well-constructed story, Facebook, Twitter and interoffice mail. "We just needed the people," he said.

All the kids are doin' it! Follow Helen A.S. Popkin on Twitter or friend her on Facebook. What are ya, chicken?

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