On May 14, 2013, the day after Canadian astronaut-singer Chris Hadfield returned to Earth, a brief article was uploaded by The Beaverton, a Canadian fake-news site styled after The Onion in the United States: “Hadfield comes home to $1.37-million Rogers phone bill.” In a goodmonth, The Beaverton averages 400,000 readers; the Hadfield article alone drew that many in three days.
One of those was Jeff Detsky, a TV writer whose credits include Orphan Black and Seed. “I saw a lot of people post it [on Facebook],” Detsky recalls. “And not just my comedy friends. I think my uncle maybe posted the link. That let me know the site had some reach beyond the usual social-media echo chamber.”