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Computer tan hoax: Wikis


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Computer tan hoax refers to a trick website set up by skin cancer charity Skcin in 2009 to spread awareness about skin cancer through the Internet. The fake company was promoted by leaflets, street marketing and online ads, which directed users to the website where they were directed to download software. Launched on February 3, 2009 and originally planned to run for seven days, the site received more than 30,000 hits in the first 24 hours and over 1 million hits in the first two months.[1][2] The premise of the hoax is that software downloaded from the website recalibrates the user's computer monitor or mobile phone to produce ultraviolet rays, after promising to give the user a skin analysis. Described as a "revolutionary new online tanning service"[3] which promises an all-year tan, upon activating the "five minute free tan trial", bars from a sunbed flash on the screen followed by the message "Don't be fooled, UV exposure can kill",[3] and then by images depicting the victims of sun damage.

The advertisement was shown on 75 screens in 11 stations on the London Underground, where it was projected to be seen by up to 1.7 million commuters. It was also seeded online, where several bloggers joined in on the hoax. In response to the number of hits received by the website, a spokesperson for the charity described it as:

... an astonishing response [which] has undoubtedly helped raise awareness of the dangers of skin cancer.

—Charity spokesperson, The Guardian, 29 March 2009

Skcin was set up in memory of Karen Clifford, a resident of Nottingham, England, who died of skin cancer in 2005.[1]


  1. ^ a b "'Computer tan' website scores hit". BBC. 28 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-30.  
  2. ^ "Computer tan hoax fools 30,000 into seeing dangers of skin cancer". Brand Republic. 2009-02-05. Retrieved 2009-03-30.  
  3. ^ a b "Computer tanning hoax comes to light". The Guardian. 29 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-30.  

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