We live in a world where anything can be faked nowadays. Thanks to a photo-editing software like Photoshop, it’s now super easy to modify photos in a variety of ways. We also live in a world where people will believe anything they see on social media, so even if a photo hasn’t been altered in any way, someone can just make up a story about it, post it to the Internet, and thousands of people will believe it. There are lots of gullible people who will believe in anything they see on their phone or computer screens.
Because social media plays such a huge part of our lives and news can easily be distributed among the various social networking sites, it’s easy for photos and videos to go viral. And because it’s so easy for photos and videos to go viral, it’s easy for said fake photos and videos to be spread around and fool people. Sometimes, the fake photos are debunked by people with good eyesight or just plain common sense, but other times, the fake photos continually keep tricking people every time they’re shared or retweeted on social media.
If you want to see some of the photos that have tricked people and see if you were one of them, then check out this list of 15 fake viral photos that spread faster than bacteria.
Last year, a popular Spanish website known as ForoCoches had photos and videos posted on the site that showed what appeared to be a yeti at the Formigal ski resort in northeastern Spain. “This morning skiing in Formigal with friends we’ve come across this. What the hell is it?” A user with the handle name Kangaroo, asked in Spanish. Kangaroo posted two photos and a video of the legendary creature.
The three-second video was posted to YouTube and slowed down multiple times to make it seem as if the video was much longer. However, the whole thing is totally fake. For one thing, ForoCoches is much like Reddit, in that it’s a site full of hoaxes since it relies heavily on user-submitted content. Another thing is that you can see footprints in the snow, as one Spanish website called attention to.
14. Girls At A Soviet Mental Institution
It’s no secret that Russia has some of the world’s most dangerous prisons and probably some of the creepiest, nightmarish mental institutions in the world. The above photo has been purported as a photo from one of those creepy and nightmarish Russian asylums spread around on the Internet by various paranormal groups as evidence of the paranormal. The caption for the photo read, “Picture said to be from a Russian mental institution, 1952.”
However, this could not be further from the truth. The photo was taken from a performance by German performer Pina Bausch from her piece “Blaubart.” During the performance, it appears that the women in the photo are able to levitate in the air while facing the wall, when actually, they are kept in place by holes in the wall. American Horror Story drew inspiration from the photo for season 3 of the show with its 17-second teaser titled “Detention.”
13. Man Holding A Three-Foot Grasshopper
You’ve probably seen plenty of Photoshopped photos on social media of people next to obviously enlarged animals. One such photo is that of Hercules, who could have been the world’s biggest dog if he was actually that big. Another example of altered photos is this photograph, which has been seen all around social media for the past several years. But grasshoppers are only an inch or two in length, so there’s no way one could grow to three feet long.
And if the grasshopper was real, then a shadow would have been cast on the man’s pants and on the ground, in the same direction as the man’s shadow. An uncropped version of the photo shows that it was copyrighted to Coles Studio in 1937, created as a prank to fool viewers. During the early 20th century, grasshoppers were a recurring theme in exaggerated postcards.
12. David Bowie And Lemmy Kilmister From Motorhead
Maybe Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead and David Bowie met sometime during their careers, but this picture is not proof of their encounter. The photograph in question was posted to Imgur early last year shortly after Bowie’s death in January of 2016 (Lemmy died in December of 2015) with the caption “Bowie and Lemmy are about to start the most rocking, stellar band ever. Rock In Peace you legends.”
It didn’t take long for the picture to go viral as fans of both musicians mourned the two. However, the two legendary musicians never posed together for that photo, which was claimed to have been taken at a party. The photo is a combination of two other photos. In reality, David Bowie was posing with singer Claudia Lennear while Lemmy was posing with his “French girlfriend.”
11. Frozen Canal In Venice
In February of 2014, a photo trended on social media that showed Venice, more specifically one of its canals, had frozen over due to freezing weather. The photo was titled “Venice Frozen,” and people actually believed that the Italian city really was covered in ice. The only problem was that there hadn’t been freezing weather in the city before the photo was supposedly taken, and Venice never froze over in real life.
The creator of this misleading picture was an artist named Robert Johns, who took ice from a photo of Lake Baikal and placed it into a picture of Venice. But unlike others who Photoshop photos to trick other people, Johns’ purpose in mind was simply to create artistic photos. This photo is just one photo in a series he did that show Venice frozen in ice.
10. Burger King Employee With Stolen Chicken Nuggets
18-year-old John Correa won admiration and praise from Twitter users everywhere after he tweeted a photo of Burger King chicken nuggets in the passenger seat of his car with the caption “TODAY WAS MY LAST DAY WORKING AT BURGER KING SO I TOOK ALL OF THEIR NUGGETS, **** IT.” He became known as the “Chicken King,” an “idol to the masses” who inspired fast food lovers all across the board.
Unfortunately for those who appreciate the “Chicken King,” Correa didn’t really steal those chicken nuggets. He was asked by his manager to take the nuggets from the store to another nearby Burger King that was running low. In fact, Correa showed the picture to his managers who laughed at it. Correa reportedly told 96.5 Radio News in Florida, “I just wanted to bring attention to how easily people are influenced by what they see on social media.”
9. Fake Alan Rickman Quote
Sometimes, quotes are attributed to the wrong people. Winston Churchill never said, “You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.” Marie Antoinette never said, “Let them eat cake.” And, surprisingly, Sherlock Holmes never said the catchphrase “Elementary my dear Watson” anywhere in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s series. Like other misattributed quotes, Alan Rickman never said anything about reading the Harry Potter series at 80.
For years, the quote seen above was erroneously believed by Harry Potter fans everywhere to have been said by the late iconic actor. The quote was shared around Twitter following his death in January of 2016. However, Rickman never said those words. They were actually written by a Harry Potter fan on Tumblr in 2010. Rickman never had any children, and he never read the books.
8. U.S. Postal Service Mailmen With Children In Mail Bags
Were these children actually mailed through the US Postal Service? No, not exactly. The photo above is one of many gag photos that were created simply for kicks. Some of these said photos were spread around on historical Twitter accounts which fooled plenty into believing that at one point in time, children could be mailed through the mail service. But there is some truth to the story.
There have been a few authentic and documented cases of young children being mailed through the postal service, whose families entrusted them to the Post Office Department by having them travel with dependable postal workers. One such case happened in 1914 when a 5-year-old girl was “mailed” from her parents’ house in Grangeville, Idaho to her grandparents’ house 73 miles away for just 53 cents. The postmaster eventually banned children from being mailed, and photos of children in mail bags remained gag photos.
7. JFK And Marilyn Monroe Hugging
John F. Kennedy was one of the most beloved U.S. presidents of all time, and Marilyn Monroe was one of the most iconic figures of her era. Mystery has surrounded the nature of the scandalous “affair” she supposedly had with JFK and his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Reportedly, before she died, she planned to hold a press conference in which she would disclose details on her relationships with the two brothers.
For years, pictures of JFK and Marilyn caught in an embrace have circulated the web, prompting speculation that there was more going on behind the scenes than previously known. But, those photos are fake. The two never embraced like that—at least not on film. The pictures are the work of artist Alison Jackson, who’s known for creating photos of lookalikes of famous people.
6. Fairy Pools Of Scotland Colored Purple
While this is no doubt a very pretty picture, the Fairy Pools of Scotland don’t actually look like this. And not only do the Fairy Pools not look like this, but this isn’t even a picture of the Fairy Pools to begin with. It’s actually an image of the Shotover River in New Zealand, where the vegetation is a normal shade of green, not an artificial shade of purple.
Someone Photoshopped the original picture of the Shotover River by using a color filter to color the vegetation purple and uploaded their work to the Internet under a claim that this was the Fairy Pools of Scotland. The image spread around the Internet in late 2013, drawing comments such as “oh my, this is beyond beautiful.” It’s unfortunate that the Fairy Pools don’t look like this in real life, though.
5. Paris Hilton Wearing Stop Being Poor Tank Top
In late 2013, a photo of Paris Hilton at a party wearing a t-shirt that read “Stop being poor” circulated around the Internet, making its rounds around hyperspace a couple years later as part of a set of photos on Imgur that showed famous people saying terrible things. Taking into consideration Paris’ character, it does seem like a shirt she would wear, but it was actually photoshopped. Her shirt never said, “Stop being poor.” It really said, “Stop being desperate.”
The original photo was taken in 2005, and there are other pictures of Paris wearing the t-shirt at the party, proving even further that the photo was Photoshopped. Granted, the “stop being desperate” message isn’t much better than the “stop being poor” message, but at least the case is all cleared up now.
4. Trump And Other Leaders Staring At Putin At G20 Summit
The 2017 G20 Hamburg Summit held last month in Germany provided plenty of pictures of social media users to examine and discuss. One of those pictures was a photo of Trump and other leaders around the world staring fixedly at Putin as if they’re waiting for him to say something like he’s their boss or something. In reality, the men were never looking at Putin because he was never there to begin with.
The chair was empty, and the men were actually looking at the man standing behind Putin in the Photoshopped photo. For those who know how Photoshop works, it’s almost clear as day that the photo was a total fake. The lines around the Russian president are all wrong, as well as his size and proximity to the man standing behind him.
3. Impala Mother Sacrifices Herself To Save Her Children
They say that every picture has a story to tell. Apparently, the story here is that the impala pictured above sacrificed herself to the cheetahs to save her children from being eaten. The story also says that the wildlife photographer who took the photo, Alison Buttigieg, promptly fell into a depression afterward. Whoever crafted that story should become a writer because that story is total fiction. What really happened was that the impala was used by a cheetah mother in order to teach her cubs how to hunt.
But her cubs were much more interested in playing with the impala, which Alison inferred was the reason why the animal was frozen in shock. Eventually, the cheetah mother slew the impala herself. Alison was understandably outraged when she learned of the fictional story, calling out “fake sensationalism” for no other reason than to generate more views and “stupid, gullible people” who spread “#fakenews like crazy.”
2. Obama Pointing At A Picture Of Trump
Early last year, a photo which made its rounds around the Internet showed Obama in Cuba, smiling and pointing at an illustration of a naked Trump. The image is totally fake, however, and just another example of people being fooled by Photoshop. And to add to that, the picture is a Photoshop of another Photoshopped photo.
Vincent X Torres of the Guzu Gallery in Austin, Texas Photoshopped a picture of Obama pointing at a picture of Beavis and Butthead, which he uploaded to Facebook to promote the gallery’s “Half-Human” series. A Reddit user shared the photo to PSBattles which is where the Photoshopped Trump version came from, done by Reddit user RespectThyHypnotoad. The Trump illustration was done by artist Ilma Gore, titled “Make America Great Again.”
1. Syrian Orphan Sleeping In Between Graves Of His Dead Parents
You’ve probably seen plenty of pictures on news stations of the devastating effects of the Syrian Civil War. One of these photos was that of a young “Syrian” boy. Someone uploaded a photo of the boy sleeping between what appeared to be graves to social media, with the caption “In Syria, sleeping between his parents,” and it spread like wildfire. But what appears as a heartrending glimpse into the humanitarian crisis in Syria is actually just an art project.
The photographer was 25-year-old Abdul Aziz al-Otaibi, and the boy in the picture was actually his nephew. The photo wasn’t even taken in Syria; it was taken in Saudi Arabia. And those “graves” were just piles of stone. Abdul said that he made it very clear when he posted the photo on Facebook that the graves were fake.
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