There can be a plethora of reasons why a specific image could go viral. One of the more common correlations as to how this particular phenomenon manifests is due to how repetitively (maybe even relentlessly) and accurately these images hit our funny bone. We all know how infectious humor is. The same happens when a viral photo depicts a scene that encapsulates the pinnacle of earthly woes and suffering. As they say, misery loves company, and virulence spawned by misery adores company.
But an image can also become viral when it shows something that’s normally insuperable as a possibility, when it delves into the fanatical, thereby making it plausible. That usually catches our attention and coaxes us to share, share, share. Why? Seeing the impossible become possible is a manifestation that we so desperately want to believe and witness with our own eyes. But many times, images that do go viral because of their inherent impossibility seem unreal because they are…well…impossible.
This a collection of images that did their fair share of rounds across the many spectra of the internet, but which we know are completely and totally false. In every case, either the image itself was manipulated or the context of the image was completely fabricated.
15. An Unlikely Duo
Everyone wishes that both Marilyn Monroe and James Dean lived longer. But they wish it not because they are impressively empathetic, but because people are colossally selfish punks who only care about their own wants, such as wanting more movies starring the said actors. But that’s neither here nor there.
As such, both of these deceased actors have oftentimes been Photoshopped together to create the illusion that they starred in some secret film we never saw, very much like the photo on the far left. However, that picture was never taken.
The two images next to the aforementioned fake one are the very-much-real originals that our perpetrator craftily combined. The photo with Marilyn was taken on top of the New York’s Ambassador Hotel in 1955. While the photo with Dean hasn’t been officially identified, some sources say that it’s a behind-the-scenes shot of James Dean during the production of the 1955 film, East of Eden, seeing as Dean wore the exact same sweater during some of that movie’s scenes.
14. Teeny-Weeny Hands
We hope that no one, absolutely no one, fell for this hilarious, albeit obviously fake photo shoot. Those hands are tiny as all living heck! As far as we know, there isn’t a disease whereby the proportions of every single part of the human anatomy is normal save for the hands, which are exponentially smaller.
Leading up to these viral photos, Delaney Henry wanted to celebrate the momentous occasion of graduating from Appalachian State University by being the subject of a photo shoot in a field of bright yellow wildflowers, wherein she would pose, completely in her graduation attire, with…tiny plastic hands.
Heck, Delaney didn’t even try to fool anyone. In the Facebook post, she stated that while her mother wanted her daughter to have a “serious” graduation photoshoot, her mother was going to get this instead.
13. Nikon Fail
What makes this particular story so utterly embarrassing is that Nikon Singapore, a company that ostensibly knows everything about cameras and photography, was completely fooled by a simple case of photo doctoring.
In 2016, the company, with all the greatest intentions in the world, created a contest whereby people could submit their own amateur photos. Out of the many submissions they received, the people at Nikon couldn’t help but be impressed by how Yu Wei, due to either a remarkable case of serendipity or incredible erudition in photography, was able to perfectly frame an aircraft as he did.
While Nikon was fooled (the company was going to award him with a Nikon trolley bag), their shrewd followers on social media weren’t so easily swayed and called Nikon out.
During the insanity that later ensued, Yu Wei issued an apology in the next 24 hours where he revealed his “evil” doings. After taking the photo, Yu said that a plane would make “for an interesting point of view” and therefore used PicsArt to insert one. Nikon Singapore also issued an apology, noting that the “rousing response” they received just showed how the “spirit of photography” was still alive and well…just not its professionalism.
12. #RadioactiveLIE #GiantLIAR
There’s nothing more heartbreaking than an image of a sea animal washed up on the shore, especially when the creature can’t survive on land (and most especially when it has died as a result).
However, would you say the same thing about a horrifying sea monster? Sure, it would be sad, but it would also be terrifying to know that such a thing existed. In fact, it would terrorize you so much that you would have to show it to the world.
That’s how this image of a seemingly realistic giant squid that had supposedly washed up on Santa Monica beach in California, started getting passed around as though it were some hot new sushi dish that was trending on high-end dining blogs. However, it turned out that the image was the subject of the merging of two very separate images. Sure, there was a squid that had washed up on the shores of Spain, but it wasn’t as massive as the one pictured here. That real, but enlarged, image was then doctored onto a very real photo of a dead whale that had washed up on the shores of Chile in 2011.
11. You All Just Got Served … Nuggets Of Lies!
People love a good story when the little guy sticks it to “the man,” especially when that “man” is a huge business that everyone is aware of—Burger King. That’s why when John Correa, an 18-year-old Burger King employee…well…alleged ex-employee, felt that he needed to not only take a certain act of vengeance on his former employer but share it with the world, thereby compounding his victory.
John’s method for articulating his worldwide announcement was through Twitter. According to his Tweet, which was all written in caps (and therefore why all of the direct quotes from said Tweet will also be presented in caps), the story goes as follows: John, who’d just finished his “LAST DAY WORKING AT BURGER KING,” decided that he would take “ALL OF THEIR NUGGETS” and show his stolen goods in a photo as proof. And he did.
The people of Twitter gobbled up the news like they would those nuggets, calling John a “hero” as well as an “idol to the masses.” But it turns out, he was just a “liar” and an “idol to non-truth-tellers everywhere.” John apparently wasn’t fired and Tweeted the message to prove a useless point—that people are easily influenced by what they see on social media. Great job!
10. Running Away From The Furry (And Scary) Truth
Running away from a bear, of which is in hot pursuit of you (and you living to tell the tale), is an endeavor that every man would love to survive and more importantly, boast about, in order to demonstrate his now-forever indisputable manhood. When the photo you see above started making its rounds across the world wide web (and attracting a great deal of attention), it was believed that these photographers were from National Geographic and were shooting scenes for a movie that was never put into production.
All of this was true. Minus the bear.
Tim Sparks, the guy in the photo with the beard and red hair, has said that they thought it would be hilarious to create a photo of them running from a bear. The trickery, however, was ousted by the highly resourceful trolls of Reddit who pointed out quite a few things. Out of the bunch of evidence they extrapolated, probably the funniest thing they provided was that the bear was not only fake, but a freakin’ stock photo.
9. Putin, The Bear Tamer…No, The Lie Tamer
There are many things that can accurately describe the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin—“dictator,” “bully,” “arrogant,” self-centered,” and an “isolationist.” But a man who is brave enough to ride a bear, he is not.
Of course, this image begs to differ. But it couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, all you have to do is do some research and you’ll find out that in 2009, Putin famously rode a horse (yes, also topless) while on a holiday outside the town of Kyzyl in Southern Siberia.
It’s pretty much the same…except he’s not riding a bear. After the actual photo of Putin riding a horse was taken, the Kremlin quickly doctored the image. Another piece of evidence proving how we know it’s not true is because there are an alarming amount of photos of Putin posted online allegedly performing a great deal of extremely manly acts. However, it should be noted that these “things” are almost always completely staged. To perpetuate his image as a man who can perform many difficult tasks that genuinely would require an impressive amount of strength and stamina, Putin goes out of his way on many occasions to stage photo ops that are oftentimes overtly elaborate.
Many people don’t like Steve Bannon, whose role as president Trump’s advisor is still unclear. In many cases, their criticism is justifiable. But that doesn’t constitute the spread of photo manipulation, especially when it’s done in a manner that contorts the facial characteristics of the said person in a way that ridicules them.
In short, Steve Bannon isn’t riddled with sores as this photo tries to make us believe. Regardless, it’s not a pretty sight, one that generated a good deal of responses that have proliferated to the point of even Anthony Bourdain Tweeting that he believed Bannon might have syphilis.
Comedian Johnny McNulty even Tweeted: “He looks like a rash f—ed an even bigger rash.” The original photo that had been tampered with was taken by Jonathan Ernst on January 28, 2017 for Reuters. As for the original creator of the hoax, that “honor” goes to Vic Berger IV on Twitter.
7. She Was Just A “Learning Experience”
First off, it’s imperative to note that the photo is completely real. The impala (it’s not a deer, it’s a freakin’ impala, learn your animals) was actually attacked by cheetahs (where said impala was eventually slain). Stuff like that happens in the wild. It’s tough out there. However, the reason as to why the photo went viral was a complete sham.
Someone somewhere thought it would be a great idea to embellish the harsh scene by saying that the impala had sacrificed herself in an effort to save her young and that the photographer, Alison Buttigieg, as a result of the atrocity that she captured, had fallen into a depression.
Alison, in response to the completely fictional story, didn’t hold back. She expressed her frustration at the continual perpetuation of lies in this “vile” world by calling it “sensationalism” and a “ploy.” She also went all-out at those who fell for the ploy, calling them “stupid gullible people.”
The real story, however, is just as interesting, if not more so. The impala was being used by a cheetah mother as some sort of interactive tool during a live teaching lesson for her cubs so they could learn how to hunt.
But let’s end on a cute note. The baby cheetahs, at the time of the lesson, apparently viewed the impala more like a big buddy rather than as food. They were more preoccupied with playing with it than hunting it.
6. From Heart-Breaking To Ostentatiously And Unabashedly “Excited”
The problem with the original photo (the picture on the left) wasn’t that the actual image was fake. It was the reason as to why it was garnering so much attention—and, in turn, the collective awwwws—that was completely false.
Turned out, the lie was just another typical anthropomorphizing-gone-wrong scenario. When the picture was originally published in the Australian press, people believed that the mother kangaroo was dying (the kangaroo pictured on the ground, not standing) while her loyal mate (the kangaroo not on the ground) was trying to raise her head just so he could look into her eyes one last time.
But that wasn’t the case at all. According to Dr. Mark Eldridge, a research scientist at the Australia Museum Research Institute, the “action” that everyone was cooing over was, in fact, a perfect example of courtship behavior. This act would have been normally and wholly acceptable if the object (or the one receiving) of the said behavior wasn’t a moribund or soon-to-be deceased female.
All the proof you really need can be found in our picture on the right. The kangaroo’s stance, as well as other bodily functions, make it quite clear what the kangaroo was actually doing. Rather than a heartbroken “awww,” let’s make a resounding “GROSS!”
5. London Tube Is Falling Down, Falling Down
In the wake of the recent London terrorist attack, during which Khalid Masood, a radical Islamist, killed four and injured 40 people at Westminster, many people were upset, and rightfully so. Other people, however, saw the scenario as an advantageous opportunity to be milked for all that it was worth.
The fact that the event has been heralded as the deadliest terror attack on London in 12 years, didn’t matter to these opportunistic pranksters. Instead, they created this image that quickly went viral of a note from a notice board inside a London underground tube, reading, “All terrorists are politely reminded that THIS IS LONDON and whatever you do to us, we will drink tea and jolly well carry on. Thank you.”
4. Earthquake? More Like Stranger Danger
The suffering of children is never a pleasing sight (unless you’re some deranged, sick, twisted monster). In the case of this particular photo, the image of a girl huddling her brother was originally meant to exemplify the suffering of those who fell victim to the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal…because it was assumed that the picture was taken there at that time.
While it turns out that the huddling brother and sister wasn’t staged, the “thing” they were reacting to was not the aftermath of the aforementioned earthquake.
In fact, these children weren’t even in Nepal! It was later revealed by photographer Na Son Nguyen that he took the image in Ha Giang province, Vietnam in 2007. The children weren’t actually huddled together because of an earthquake, but because of a stranger of whom they were unsure.
The photograph says, “The little girl, probably two years old, cried in the presence of a stranger so the boy, who was maybe three years old or so, hugged his sister to comfort her.” In which only exacerbates the ridiculousness of it all, the image has also been advertised (either on purpose or by mistake) as either an image of abandoned orphans, abandoned orphans in Burmese or as victims of the Syrian civil war.
3. Sleeping With Graves Or Posing With Rocks?
Taking advantage of people’s emotions in response to a horrific tragedy is bad enough, but that atrocious behavior of toying with another’s empathy is augmented when you do so at the expense of another who’s actually experiencing the tragedy to which you are misleading others in believing your subject represents.
Luckily, in this case, the person who created this photo didn’t do so with that intention, as you’ll find out later on. Purportedly, photographer Abdul Aziz al Otaibi took a picture of a child, whom he, according to popular belief had no connections with, lying between the graves of his parents in Syria.
It was a heart-wrenching photo, and it was because of how it tugged at the said heart’s strings that social media went with it and ran…hard. However, the photo was actually part of an art project. The boy in the photo wasn’t some random child that Abdul had run into either. He’s actually Abdul’s nephew.
But that wasn’t even the half of it. Those “graves” aren’t actually graves. They’re just a pile of stones. Oh, and the photographer wasn’t in Syria when he took the photo. He was in Saudi Arabia. As to how this misinformation came about, Abdul doesn’t know. In the original Facebook post, he made it very clear that the image was for a project and that the graves were fake.
2. To Censor Or Not To Censor?
In what became her first trip to Saudi Arabia in seven years, Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, went to have talks with King Salman, the country’s leader. While that was an incredible milestone, the big news of the day was that she had refused to cover her hair.
But that “big” news story ended up becoming a minor plot point to a much bigger story when the Saudi channel allegedly edited out Merkel’s hair. All of the hullabaloo began after images of her hair, portrayed in a highly pixelated way that usually denotes censorship in an effort to truncate offending material, began circulating the web.
What people failed to realize, however, is that the image first appeared on an Arabic-language satirical Facebook page called Khase News (a post that came complete with the caption “just for fun”) and later made its way to a Russian site named Pikabu, which has a strong focus on user-generated content.
1. Fake News Strikes Again
(Quick disclaimer: The writer would like to point out that the following contains his personal opinion and not those necessarily shared by theRichest.)
The media enjoys jumping on the “bash Trump” bandwagon whenever they have what they believe to be the chance to do so to the point that it’s “hurting” their credibility as an unbiased source.
In the case of this picture, Dana Schwartz of the New York Observer leaped at the possibility that Trump had enlarged his hand in a photo to make it appear as though it was much bigger than it actually was, a “gotcha!” moment that stemmed from the media’s obsession with Trump’s comments about Marco Rubio’s “small hands.”
The original photo appeared in an ABC News report. It all began when Dana Tweeted a comparison photo (which has now been deleted) that showed just how abnormally large Trump’s hand ostensibly appeared in the ABC News report. While it was later proven that Trump’s hand had been digitally altered, it was revealed that the viral image wasn’t actually the photo that appeared in ABC’s broadcast. It was made by Twitter handler @JohnnyAmerica6. The embarrassing thing is that @JohnnyAmerica6 was Dana’s source.
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