This morning the results of a new study on browser users swept around the web. Its conclusion? “A significant number of individuals with a low score on the cognitive test were found to be using Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) versions 6.0 to 9.0.”
In other words, the research from AptiQuant claimed to show that IE users had a lower IQ than people who preferred Chrome, Firefox or Opera, particularly when they used older versions of the browser.
It stated: "From the test results, it is a clear indication that individuals on the lower side of the IQ scale tend to resist a change/upgrade of their browsers."
In the hours since the story first spread around the web, however, it’s emerged that the company and its controversial study are likely nothing more than complex hoaxes.
Even the BBC was taken in, though it has since updated the story to reflect its now probable-hoax status. CNN, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and Forbes also reported on it.
The hoax became apparent when users noticed that the website, which has stories dating back to April, was only set up within the last month.
A serious amount of effort has clearly been put into the fake company, because the site has several pages, including an ‘Our Team’ section with thumbnail images of staff – but the pictures have been taken from French research company Central Test, which has commented that it has no knowledge of AptiQuant.
It even has a news story reporting that since its story came out, it has been sued by ‘loyal Internet Explorer users’.
Graham Cluley from Sophos told the BBC that the pdf of the study does not appear to contain malware.
At the moment it is not known who is responsible for ApitQuant, but the results do make for entertaining reading.