“PARENTS BEWARE: MARSHMALLOW EGGS ARE ACTUALLY SATANISTIC DEMON EMBRYOS THAT HATCH INSIDE YOUR CHILD!!!”
The post was by South Africans Against Dagga and Satan. The page makes fun of conservative attitudes that might, for example, associate drug use with “satanism”. (Dagga is a South African word for marijuana.)
The page has been online since 2014 and has more than 30,000 followers.
The post continued: “Recent Christian studies prove beyond any doubt that marshmallow Easter eggs are a satanistic plot to infest South African children with the demons of paganry and witchcraft.”
True, false – or a joke?
A Facebook user flagged the post, which sent an alert to Africa Check for us to determine whether it is true or false.
Satire is neither true nor false. Satirists makes absurd claims to highlight the things they think are absurd about opinions and attitudes they disagree with.
It’s clearly absurd to claim that marshmallow eggs – a huge seller over the Easter holidays – are really “demon embryos”.
Is the claim true? Of course not. Is it false? No, because it’s a joke that doesn’t pretend to be true.
South African shopping malls – ‘Masonic’?
South Africans Against Dagga and Satan have posted a number of similar pranks.
On 7 September 2017 they joked that plastic toys given away at Pick n Pay stores were satanic. The joke was so popular it prompted articles in the media and unleashed a flurry of memes on Facebook.
The page has also warned that Pokémon is a plot to show children that they can become a "powerful evil force, and they don't have to listen to their parents”.
Then there’s its warning that the five biggest malls in Gauteng province are “Masonic Malls” built on ancient ley lines in the shape of a pentagram to “inflict uncontrollable desire and lust” on residents and visitors to the area.
Africa Check contacted South Africans Against Dagga and Satan, asking if they could email us an explanation of their satire to help Facebook users tell the difference between satire and false news.
But they stayed in character.
“You can email Jesus because, Jesus does not think it’s false! #prayforafricacheck.” - Africa Check (20/05/19)
For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false
A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!
Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.
Africa Check teams up with Facebook
Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.
The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.
You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.