Internet Explorer story was bogus
- 3 August 2011
- From the section Technology
A story which suggested that users of Internet Explorer have a lower IQ than people who chose other browsers appears to have been an elaborate hoax.
A number of media organisations, including the BBC, reported on the research, put out by Canadian firm ApTiquant.
It later emerged that the company's website was only recently set up and staff images were copied from a legitimate business in Paris.
It is unclear who was behind the stunt.
The story was reported by many high profile organisations including CNN, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and Forbes.
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.
Thumbnail images of the firm's staff on the website also matched those on the site of French research company Central Test, although many of the names had been changed.
The BBC contacted Central Test who confirmed that they had been made aware of the copy but had no knowledge of ApTiquant or its activities.
ApTiquant issued a press release claiming that it had invited 100,000 web users to take IQ tests and matched their results with the type of browser they used.
It also supplied extensive research data.
The results claimed to show that Internet Explorer users were generally of lower intelligence.
The BBC sought alternative views for the original story, including Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University's Statistical Laboratory, who said: "I believe these figures are implausibly low - and an insult to IE users."
No-one on ApTiquant's contact number was available for comment.
Graham Cluley, senior security consultant at Sophos examined the source material 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.
Mr Cluley also looked at the pdf file containing the data that many people had downloaded from a variety of sources and said it did not appear to contain malware.