On May 8, 2012, Nate St. Pierre, a social media consultant and a blogger from Illinois claimed “Abraham Lincoln Filed a Patent for Facebook in 1845“.
Lincoln was requesting a patent for “The Gazette,” a system to “keep People aware of Others in the Town.” He laid out a plan where every town would have its own Gazette, named after the town itself. He listed the Springfield Gazette as his Visual Appendix, an example of the system he was talking about. Lincoln was proposing that each town build a centrally located collection of documents where “every Man may have his own page, where he might discuss his Family, his Work, and his Various Endeavors.” - Nate St. Pierre
Washington Post commented on this post:
A section of the blogger community was in an uproar over the claim made by Nate St. Pierre in this post that in 1845 Abraham Lincoln had requested for a patent for the visual appendix and concept of what we now call “Facebook” and that Lincoln’s request had been rejected. But many skeptics like me had our fingers crossed.
We now know for sure that this story as a fake. Here it is straight from the horse’s mouth.
THE CONFESSION OF NATE ST. PIERRE
The original story is 100% fabricated. It’s a tip of the hat to P.T. Barnum’s celebrated hoaxes (or humbugs) and Abe Lincoln’s tall tales. Absolutely nothing in it is true, except for the existence of the circus graveyard and the Lincoln Museum, both of which I would like to visit someday. The main image is a (very poorly) Photoshopped copy of a newspaper from Massachusetts. This was meant to be an easy one to debunk – there are clues throughout the entire article telling you it’s a hoax (detailed in the second part of this article).
I wrote it for a few reasons. Here they are, in order of importance:
- I wanted to do something fun that would make me (and others) laugh.
- I was tired of all the same old boring blog posts rolling past me that day.
- I was officially launching my consulting services the next day, so I wanted a bigger audience.
- I wanted to illustrate one of the drawbacks to our “first and fastest” news aggregation and reporting mentality, especially online.
- This isn’t my first rodeo in the “poke the internet” department, but I only do it every 2-3 years or so. The last thing I did on this scale was when I hijacked the Fast Company Influence Project. The one before that I would prefer to remain anonymous on.
- Abraham Lincoln Filed a Patent for Facebook in 1845 (natestpierre.me)
- Abraham Lincoln invented Facebook (kottke.org)
- Abraham Lincoln tried to patent Facebook in 1845, but failed (zdnet.com)
- Move over Zuck, Abraham Lincoln filed a patent for Facebook in 1845 (thenextweb.com)
- Did Lincoln invent Facebook in 1845? (cbsnews.com)
- Facebook was Abraham Lincoln’s idea? Oh, please (news.cnet.com)
- Abraham Lincoln didn’t invent Facebook, says the guy who wrote the piece saying he did (washingtonpost.com)
- Anatomy of a Hoax: How Abraham Lincoln Invented Facebook (natestpierre.me)
- The Continuing Erosion (Intro the the blog) (erosionoffreedom.wordpress.com)