A video, purportedly showing a one-time-use paper phone, has recently gone viral, with users claiming that “disposable paper phones are coming soon….as the world gets more technologically advanced!”. We have received this video on our Whatsapp tipline.
Newschecker checked the video and saw a watermark of “truTV” and at the end of the clip, a title card saying “The Carbonaro Effect”.
Taking a cue from this we ran a keyword search for “Carbonaro effect trutv disposable phone”, which led us to this Youtube video, dated June 17, 2016, uploaded by truTV.
“Michael demonstrates the latest in mobile phone technology: a pre-paid phone made entirely from paper. Michael Carbonaro is a magician by trade, but a prankster by heart. In THE CARBONARO EFFECT, Michael performs baffling tricks on unsuspecting people in everyday situations, all caught on hidden camera. Everyone is left stunned and delighted, even though they have no idea what just hit them,” read the description.
We then came across Michael Carbonaro’s website, which describes him as best known as the star and executive producer of the hit series, THE CARBONARO EFFECT on truTV.
According to the bio in the website, “Following Carbonaro’s frequent late-night appearances, Michael was presented with the opportunity to launch his hit comedic series, ‘The Carbonaro Effect’, which has run for over 100 episodes on truTV. A trickster at heart, Michael performs inventive tricks on unsuspecting members of the public who are unaware that he is a magician…Carbonaro’s illusions – along with his absurd, matter-of-fact explanations – leave REAL people bewildered and families at home laughing out loud,” confirming that the disposable-phone skit was staged as part of the show.
We reached out to Carbonaro, who said, “Like all of the tricks from The Carbonaro Effect TV show, the ‘paper phone’ segment was accomplished using real and actual magician’s techniques and performed for 100% unsuspecting people. The reactions you see are genuine and unplanned. Is a paper phone ‘real?’ No. Not yet.”
Newschecker also ran a keyword search for “disposable paper phones”, which did not throw up any relevant news reports of such a technology. However, we did come across this report on “The First Disposable Cell Phone”, dated January 25, 2018. According to the article, “Randice-Lisa ‘Randi’ Altschul was issued a series of patents for the world’s first disposable cell phone in November 1999. Trademarked the Phone-Card-Phone®, the device was the thickness of three credit cards and made from recycled paper products. It was a real cell phone, although it was designed for outgoing messages only. It offered 60 minutes of calling time and a hands-free attachment, and users could add more minutes or throw the device away after their calling time was used up.” However, the photo in the article does not match with the phone advertised in the viral video.
We also came across this Washington Post article, dated October 28, 2019, stating that Google’s newest phone is literally just a piece of paper. However, according to the article, “You can’t take a selfie on Google’s newest phone. It doesn’t even make calls. It’s just a piece of paper, printed with a few pieces of information at home and folded into a rectangle. With a few snips of a scissors, it can hold a credit card.” The article stated that the Paper Phone is part of a new package of “digital well-being experiments” that the company says is aimed at giving users a “digital detox”.
A viral video showing a disposable paper phone was found to be part of a prank for a TV show called the “The Carbonaro Effect”, where a magician performs illusions or tricks on people.
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