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We talked to Australia conspiracy theorist Shelley Floryd about what's actually going on here

25th March 2017

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Over the past four days, Shelley Floryd has become something of an internet celebrity.

Sydney Opera House - allegedly 

It's all down to this Facebook post from 21st March, which lays out Floryd's 'theory' about why Australia - yes, that Australia that you've seen pictures of all over Instagram and probably on the news at New Year; where you definitely know that people have visited if you haven't yourself - is in fact a full-on hoax. 

Let's just pick out some of the best parts of that, again: 

Your Australian friends are "all actors and computer generated personas, part of the plot to trick the world."

Australia was made up to cover up the genocide of 162,000 transported criminals.

Everyone in "Australia" is an actor.

"Australia" is actually South America.

Pilots are in on it.

Lunacy or not, there's a strong plotline here. If this was the opening of a dystopian novel, we'd be listening. There's something extremely Truman Show-esque about it.

Clearly, the world agrees - and with over 50,000 comments and 21,000 shares by the weekend, it's not surprising that the internet has picked up Floryd's 'theory' and run with it.

After all, you can't go claiming that one of the world's most visited countries doesn't really exist without someone calling you out.

So we decided to talk to her about it. And we quickly learnt something that the entire world probably should have realised a good few days ago: Shelley Floryd is trolling us: 

And she's loving it. 

Or at least, she was.

As it turns out, Floryd, who works at a special needs high school in Stockholm, is now experiencing the dark side of internet infamy. And that, of course, means death threats.

Later in our conversation, Floryd reveals the extend of abuse she's received: 

"Most attention I've received have (sic) been negative," she told us. "I've received maybe 3000 messages on Facebook, snapchat and Instagram, and most of the people have either been calling me a cunt/retard/idiot/etc, telling me they're going to beat me up, threatening to kill me, and so on."

She has received, she adds, "maybe eight or nine messages from people who realised it was a joke."

It's not the first time Floryd's Facebook timeline has become part of the week's weird news/conspiracy theorist agenda, but although "a few of my posts and such have blown up before", she says, she's "honesty amazed so many people took me seriously."

Australians, it turns out, don't take kindly to people claiming their country doesn't exist - they invented Google Maps and Wifi, remember:

So, there you have it. Trolls exist. Trolls who troll trolls exist. Australia is real. Probably.

Shelley Floryd will probably be ok, though: 

Phew. Looks like this one might just blow over. 

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