BuzzFeed published a sympathetic piece about a group of transgender gamers excluded from a tournament for women, only to discover the trans women were actually just male pranksters.
A group of YouTube trolls calling themselves the Rigatoni Family had dressed up in wigs and makeup to apply for ESL Gaming's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive 5on5 Female Open Summer in Munich, Germany, pretending they were transgender.
The event organizers suspected a ruse, demanding the gamers provide government documentation proving their gender identity, in line with German law. The pranksters responded by forwarding the email to BuzzFeed, claiming they were discriminated against.
"A group of transgender women were barred from taking part in a female online gaming tournament after being told by an organizer they could be penalized for faking their gender," BuzzFeed reported Friday.
The resulting outrage led the tournament organizers to hire diversity consultants to revise their rules.
"We believe that e-sports and gaming should and can be an inclusive, and [have] taken steps internally to revisit the tournament rules," ESL's director of communications told the gaming site Kotaku.
One of the trolls, Sly Buehl Rigilio, exposed the true story to the alt-right website InfoWars on Tuesday.
"Over the past two weeks we set up a plot to see if we could trick BuzzFeed into posting something that is fake, for the laughs," he explained.
"We did nothing to hide our team name, which was ‘Rigatoni Family,' and if you were to search that name into Google, you'd find our channel and website where we clearly are shit disturbers," Rigilio told InfoWars. "It's blatant negligence on the behalf of BuzzFeed and other news orgs that have since picked up the story, aka Fake News."
The Rigatoni Family's YouTube channel contains videos mocking Hillary Clinton supporters and trolling online gamers, with the members referring to each other in uniformly male terms.
The BuzzFeed piece has since been updated to admit they were duped, with the headline "Trolls Say They Posed as Transgender Gamers as Part of Hoax."
Included in the update is an above-the-fold correction.
"This post has been rewritten to reflect the fact that a group of trolls now say they tricked a contest's organizers and BuzzFeed News when they posed as transgender gamers and complained about being rejected from a female online gaming tournament," the correction reads.