A news report claiming that social networking platform Facebook would be closing down on 15 March has been exposed as a hoax.
Citing a mock press conference, the website, Weekly World News, claimed that Facebook planned to close its doors on 15 March and warned people to preserve their photos and data or else risk losing them forever when the site shuts down.
“Facebook has gotten out of control and the stress of managing this company has ruined my life. I need to put an end to all the madness,” it quoted Mark Zuckerberg as saying.
Despite the satirical nature of the story, the fake news managed to cause panic across the web as worried Facebook users started spreading the report amongst their friends.
Other items of 'news' on the site claim that Glenn Beck is moving to China and that alien spaceships will attack earth in 2011.
Graham Cluey, a senior technical consultant at Sophos, which has been analysing the spread of the rumour, said: "There's an important lesson here - don't believe everything you read on the Internet, and think twice before you pass a story on to your friends."