Did a man in Japan really get crushed to death by his porn collection? No. But you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise, thanks to this dumb game of Telephone we call The Internet.

“Porn really is bad for you!” the Daily Mail headline blares. “Lonely Japanese man who amassed a SIX-TON pile of dirty magazines died when it collapsed on top of him... and his body wasn’t found for six months.”

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But almost nothing about that headline is correct. The Daily Mail seems to have taken a sad story of a man’s death in Japan and added a few lies to make it more sensational. And from there it went viral, getting picked up by the likes of The Mirror, The Toronto Sun, CBS Philly, and Sky News Australia, among a host of others.

So what really happened? Recently a Japanese man was found dead in his apartment. The man lived alone and had been dead for a month before he was discovered. The coroner ruled that he’d died of a heart attack. How do we know the real story? It was reported in Nikkan Spa in Japan on February 28, 2017. The Daily Mail story was published on March 3, 2017.

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The Daily Mail story doesn’t link out to Nikkan Spa, or acknowledge at all where its information came from. The average reader would assume that all the information presented in the Daily Mail story was collected by the Daily Mail alone. It appears that nothing in the Daily Mail’s version contains original reporting, aside from the sensationalist errors that it introduced.

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“Man killed by six-ton pornography collection,” the Toronto Sun said.

“Man crushed to death by porn collection,” Sky News Australia claimed.

“Man dies after 6-ton porn collection falls on top of him,” CBS Philly declared.

But none of that is true.

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Yes, the man had a huge porn collection. But there’s absolutely no evidence that he died from it falling on top of him, nor that he’d been dead for six months. In fact, the most gruesome bit of evidence from the original story in Japan points to the fact that he fell on top of his porn collection during his heart attack.

Photo of a hoarder’s porn collection in Japan, taken by a clean up crew (Nikkan Spa! Japan)

The original story notes that many times people who live and die alone (known as “kodokushi” in Japan) aren’t found until bodily fluids leak through the floor onto tenants below. In this case, the magazines reportedly absorbed the bodily fluids of the man’s decomposing body because he fell on top of them.

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“In order not to become a shame of the deceased, we try to dispose of adult toys in the room so that the bereaved family will not be aware of it,” a man from a cleaning crew who specializes in lonely deaths told Nikkan Spa.

The man was clearly a hoarder of porn magazines. And he died of a heart attack amongst his hoard of porn. But he wasn’t crushed by it. I guess “Hoarder dies surrounded by porn” is a less clicky headline than “OMG MAN LITERALLY DIES CRUSHED BY 6 TONS OF PORN.”

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And you wonder why Wikipedia recently banned the Daily Mail
as a source for information on the community encyclopedia? This is why.