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A Showcase for Chicanery

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Harvard University Commencement Day — a 360-year-old ceremony steeped in tradition, replete with ritual, regalia, and high regard, a stage that for one day holds the world's brightest academic and cultural luminaries and the rapt attention of thousands on thousands of proud parents and gullible journalists. 

In short, the perfect venue for shameless self-promotion.

And that is exactly what Cambridge Place Media founder David Frankle did when, in May of 2017, he launched a parody of the Harvard Crimson's special Commencement Day website while, across campus, famed Harvard dropout and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave the Commencement Address, speaking to graduates of the University's twelve degree-granting schools.


In true Zuckerberg spirit, David hacked the Crimson site and, with the help of artists and writers from Harvard humor magazine and sworn Crimson nemesis The Harvard Lampoonreplaced the newspaper's solemn, in-depth reporting with ridiculously absurd headlines and photos of the Facebook CEO.

Media organizations, with their eyes trained on Harvard for the day, were quick to seize on the urgent, important development. Publications from Business Insider to Gizmodo, Forbes to New York Magazine all snatched up the story and reported on the hacked site with the same incredulous amusement. 

While all that attention was a nice boon to the Lampoon, the true victory was injecting a bit of fun and spontaneity into an otherwise staid and stodgy tradition.

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