A BBC investigation has revealed that a widely cited survey claiming Internet Explorer users had lower IQs than people using other web browsers was a hoax.
The survey, reported by numerous major media websites -- including CNN, the Daily Mail, Forbes, FoxNews.com, and the BBC itself -- turned out to be bogus after BBC readers looked into the research firm behind the outrageous claims.
“Questions about the authenticity of the story were raised by readers of the BBC website who established that the company which put out the research -- ApTiquant -- appeared to have only set up its website in the past month,” the BBC reported in its follow-up investigation.
Images on the company website also matched that of French research company Central Test, further raising red flags. Central Test maintained that it had no knowledge of ApTiquant or its activities when contacted by the BBC.
That didn’t stop the legion of high-profile tech and news sites, such as Mashable, Business Insider, and the ZDNet from reporting the hoax as fact.
AptiQuant, a self-proclaimed "world leader in the field of online psychometric testing," claimed to have published the results of an online study that tested the IQs of users and grouped the results according to which browser respondents used.
The results purported to show that users of Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera were all slightly above average in IQ test results, but Microsoft Internet Explorer users tended to be lower on the IQ scale.
Graham Cluley, senior security analyst at Sophos, examined the fake website for the BBC after concerns were raised
"It's obviously very easy to create a bogus site like this -- as all phishers know it's easy to rip-off someone else's webpages and pictures," he said.