Inside the world of fake Facebook events that dupe and disappoint people

The Facebook event invite read:

“Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit fame will be performing all of his chart topping hits via a one man show at Rose’s Department Store in Morganton, NC. Tickets are $3.50 in advance and $5.00 day of show. VIP passes are also available for $20.00 or free with any $10 purchase at participating Rose’s Department Stores. Call now, tickets will sell out!”

The invite went out to 5,500 people, it said, and 2,200 people RSVP’d that they would be there.

Famous tech photographer Eric Pickersgill was among them.

“I got a notification on Facebook that a friend was going to this fake event about an hour from Charlotte. The local news was covering it. No one knew if it was really happeneing,” Pickersgill told Business Insider.

But when he arrived he confirmed his suspicions. The whole thing was a joke. The band was never scheduled to play and most of the people who RSVP’d knew it was a prank and stayed away.

Pickersgill was one of the folks that showed up and it set off a six month obsession with fake Facebook events and the people who show up to them.

He put together his experience in a funny, sad, insightful new photography project he calls “No Show” and shared some of the photos with Business Insider.

Eric Pickersgill skyrocketed to fame after the surreal images of his project called 'Removed' went viral. It shows just how weirdly focused people are on their devices instead of each other. Here's one with Pickersgill and his wife in bed, phones removed from the shot.

His project 'No Show' takes on fake Facebook events. These became the rage in the middle of 2016 and mostly involved 1990's bands that were supposed to be playing at odd places in small towns.

Fred Durst never showed up to play at Rose's in Morganton, NC, but so many people showed up and asked about it that management posted a sign on the front door ...

It said, 'Notice - The advertisement on Facebook about Limp Bizkit concert is fake. There is no concert. MGMT.'

But that didn't stop a bunch of people from hanging out in the parking lot, still hoping that the band would show up. 'The feeling was celebratory. People were just excited to have something to go to in their small town, even though it was fake.'

Bobby Canipe, the guy that sent out the fake invite, was there, and he certainly knew the event was a gag.

Not everyone at every fake event felt that way though. This guy rode his bike to 'Dane Cook and Staind with special guests Seether and Trapt LIVE at the Fireworks Tent in the Kmart Parking lot in Wilmington, NC.'

People were also invited to Demeter's Pizza to see 'Sugar Ray w/special guests Chumbawamba' in Woodruff, South Carolina.

And this girl, Zoie, couldn't help but feel disappointed that she showed up but the band didn't.

And no. Even though somebody on Facebook invited thousands of people to 'Sears Outlet presents Lifehouse (LIVE!) with The Calling & An Opening Monologue by Nicholas Cage' in Hendersonville, TN ...

... it wasn't going to happen, as this guy found out.

As Pickersgill attended more fake events, like Nickelback LIVE at the Dollar Tree in Salsbury, NC, and talked to others who showed up, he started to realise these fake events show how trusting people are about stuff they see on Facebook. 'They may not be familiar with the language that indicated this was a prank event,' he said.

He realised that ordinary people may not be able to detect fake stuff on Facebook, even news stories. 'People may not be able to look at an Onion post headline and know it's the Onion.'

No, Mudvayne will NOT be playing at Family Video in Columbia, SC. The invite was a lie, even if it was meant as a good-natured jest, just to start an online discussion.

'The more I engaged with fake events, the more I saw them. They started populating in my news feed. Think about it. Facebook has differentiated between these events and the real shows,' he said. He saw people show up to all the fake shows. This Taco Bell in Nashville was supposedly going to host TacoFest 16 with a whole bunch of bands. But it only hosted a lot of drive through taco orders.

And, it probably goes without saying, but Eagle Eye Cherry and P.O.D. did NOT play (LIVE!) at the abandoned day care building in Woodruff, SC.

And Morrissey did not play live at the Vienna Beef's in Chicago, either.

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