If you’re a sentient being with at least occasional access to WiFi, you’ve probably seen the image by now — just a boy and his alabaster foot angled precariously on a plate, a fried egg propped up against the outer edge of his heel. Parsley and pepper complete “the look.”
The foot belongs to Oobah Butler, who became Internet famous following the release of this Vice video, in which Butler successfully faked his way to the #1 spot on TripAdvisor’s top-rated restaurants in London through a series of clever, low-budget hype-building tactics, such as snapping smartphone shots of the aforementioned plated foot and deliberately rejecting dozens of booking requests to fabricate a sense of exclusivity.
Yesterday, Butler posted on his personal Facebook and Twitter accounts that, because of looming legislation ostensibly intended to combat the spread of fake news in Singapore, he will “not be allowed to sell [his] book” in the country. Actually, he incorrectly referred to it as “recently passed” legislation, but let’s not let his ignorance on the finer points of parliamentary procedure slow down a good story, eh?
In his post, Butler shared a screenshot of an email response that he allegedly received from a rep at the Singapore-based publishing company Talisman Publishing, in which the rep stated that they “very much doubt the prospect of safely publishing [his] book in Singapore,” and further advised Butler to “watch libel carefully as the Singapore Government are very litigious.”
I'm not allowed to sell my book in Singapore. Singaporean government recently passed a law on fake news based on the…
Though the book in question — titled How To Bullsh*t Your Way To Number 1: An Unorthodox Guide To 21st Century Success — is in print (and thus not published online), we suppose it’s possible that the guardians of the new Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill might not be too pleased about its circulation on our shores.
To be fair, government authorities here are no stranger to Butler’s online antics — back in mid-March, a special Parliamentary hearing here in Singapore saw the newly formed Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods call upon Mila Pilao, director of Core Technology Marketing at Trend Micro, to explain how Butler was able to pull his TripAdvisor prank off with such a high degree of success.
Butler has been both widely praised and criticized for his pranks. Supporters give him props for revealing how senseless and inauthentic our trend-chasing society can be nowadays, and how that makes us vulnerable and credulous to unreliable user-generated review sites like TripAdvisor, or to the absurd fickleness of the fashion industry. Critics, on the other hand, can’t seem to get past the deception and manipulation required to get the results achieved by his pranks.
Reactions to his post so far have included dozens of comments from locals expressing their disdain over the new bill.
This guy, on the other hand, took the opportunity to sound off on an entirely different (although not entirely unrelated) Internet celebrity.