Yesterday a JK Rowling fan site wrote that a character backstory made up by College Humor, a site that makes satirical videos and articles, had made it into an official special edition Harry Potter book. The book had been put out in June this year by Bloomsbury UK, the British publisher that oversees the original Harry Potter series.
When it comes to making a buck or a pound, the beneficiaries of the Harry Potter franchise leave no magical stone unturned. But the universe of the beloved wizarding series, with its spin-off play, textbook, and movies, has gotten so big, gatekeepers are starting to make mistakes about its own lore. Now fake news about wizards has infiltrated the Harry Potter canon.
College Humor’s Willie Muse wrote a satirical article in May 2015 that included fake screenshots from JK Rowling’s twitter account claiming, among other things, that character Cho Chang, a brief love interest of Potter’s, takes “huge dumps” and that Hogwarts, the school attended by Harry Potter, doesn’t have sex-ed classes. It also claimed that professors Pomona Sprout and Filius Flitwick had had a relationship and broken up, but remained friends.
Someone tweeted a screenshot of Rowling’s supposed tweets at the verified Rowling in February last year, and she responded it was a hoax. But somehow the fake news made it past the rigorous mythical-facts-checking department at Bloomsbury, and into a 20th anniversary special edition of the first book in the original series, Philosopher’s Stone. The Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw editions, named after two of the houses in Potter’s fictional school, contain the mistake about the professors, quoting the fake Rowling tweet from the article nearly verbatim:
Bloomsbury UK has not responded to a request for comment but said on Twitter they were aware of the mistake and had corrected it for future reprints.
The mix-up is a lesson in the utter lameness of bloating a story with extraneous products and backstories. When even the experts can’t tell the difference, the “facts” of the author’s creation matter less and less.