12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

One fake, two fakes. Red fakes, blue fakes. Today we've got more fake images that you may have seen recently on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever else you get your daily dose of pixel-based newstainment.

No, that supermoon isn't real. No, that's not what happens when sand is struck by lightning. And no, that's not a sex-ed class from 1929. Join us as we spoil all the fun and show you which recent viral images have been total lies.


1) Is this a photo of the supermoon over Rio de Janeiro?

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

Everybody loves a good "supermoon" photo. But sadly, so many of them are fake. Like this one, which gets passed around all the time as a supermoon shot from Rio de Janeiro.

Buzzfeed even included it in a sponsored post titled "20 Amazing Photos You Don't Want to Miss." Feel free to miss this one. The original photo of Rio de Janeiro at night (seen below) is from 2008 and was taken by Mexican photographer Horacio Montiel. It's a gorgeous photo. Too bad somebody had to ruin it with a goofy supermoon.

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

Fake photo via Buzzfeed and EarthBeauties; Original photo by Horacio Montiel


2) Is this Hunter Thompson and Bill Murray on a boat?

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

Yes, Bill Murray and Hunter S. Thompson used to hang out—especially during the lead-up to the 1980 movie Where The Buffalo Roam. And yes, this photo is real. Well, except for all the photoshopped parts.

The real photo is on the right. The photoshopped image is on the left, and it shows Thompson wearing a t-shirt with a naughty word and Murray asking for some hypothetical person to purchase him a brunch-time meal under the threat of gun-based violence. Not very nice at all.

I suspect neither Thompson (RIP) nor Murray would approve of this fake photo sullying their angelic reputations.

Photoshopped image via HistoryInPics


3) Is this what happens when lightning strikes sand?

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

As Scientific American points out, this photo doesn't actually show what happens when lightning strikes sand. It's an art project designed and photographed in Puerto Rico by Flickr user SandCastleMatt. Interestingly, it's only the left half of a much larger sand sculpture that can be seen in context below.

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

When lightning strikes sand it can form what are called fulgurites. But they tend to be much smaller and penetrate into the sand, rather than pulling sand upward, as this art project might imply after getting run through the great internet confusion machine a few dozen times.

Inaccurate photo description from LearnSomething; Photos by SandcastleMatt


4) Is this Mahatma Gandhi dancing?

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

Despite what the infamously terrible Twitter account HistoryInPics might want you to believe, that's not actually a photo of Gandhi dancing. Apparently it's an Australian actor.

Inaccurate photo description via HistoryInPics; Real photo of Gandhi via Getty Images


5) Is this really a sex education class in 1929?

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

As one photo-sleuth from Reddit points out, this isn't a photo from a sex-ed class in the 1920s. It's actually from a 1929 movie called The Wild Party, directed by Dorothy Arzner and starring Clara Bow. It's unclear precisely what's going on in this shot from the film (sadly, I've never seen the movie) but you can watch clips from it on YouTube.

As a pre-Code film, it probably does have more than its fair share of sex and debauchery. If anyone finds a link to where we can pick up a copy of The Wild Party, please do share it with the class. The movie appears to be unavailable in any form.

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

Inaccurate photo description via HistoryInPics; Other film stills from DoctorMarco


6) Is this [Warning: disturbing image] a newborn elephant?

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

Yes, that is an elephant in the photo on the left. But it's not the adorable newborn photo that so many are making it out to be. It's actually a dead elephant fetus.

We've blurred the photo above, which is being circulated by accounts like ThatsEarth as a cute baby animal photo. Sadly, as PicPedant points out, they're passing around a photo of a dead fetus.

You can read more about the dead elephant and its exploitation on Facebook and Twitter over at Snopes. People are commonly asked to pray for this "newborn" elephant, or are claiming it's the smallest elephant ever born. But for the record, the photo on the right is a baby elephant that was very much alive when the photo was taken: two-year-old Nayan at the Chester Zoo in England back in 2012. Sadly, Nayan died last year.

Inaccurate photo description via ThatsEarth; 2012 photo of baby elephant Nayan via Getty


7) Are these babies really for sale?

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

No, these babies aren't being put up for sale by desperate parents. But as HoaxofFame points out, they're part of a series of postcards from the turn of the 20th century that were intended to be humorous. Poor kiddos don't look too happy to be participating in the joke.

Inaccurate photo description via History_Pics


8) Are these sunken ships in the Bermuda Triangle?

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

No, these aren't sunken ships washed up on a sandbar near the Bermuda Triangle. The photo actually shows the Tangalooma Wrecks in Queensland, Australia. The 15 boats were intentionally sunk back in the 1960s to create an artificial reef and are now a tourist attraction.

Inaccurate photo description via Reddit and BEAUTIFULPlCS


9) Is this actually Alfred Hitchcock floating in a river?

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

No, that's not actually Alfred Hitchock floating down the Thames. It's a dummy that was used to film the trailer for his 1972 film Frenzy. On the right we see the real Hitch holding his own fake head.

There's been a trend recently where historical pictures accounts have simply started posting old photos of celebrities. But even those aren't a safe bet for them to be accurate.

They've posted fake photos of Audrey Hepburn, a few of JFK, and lots of fake Marilyn Monroes. At this point it's clear that many are just treading water until they're eventually sold to the highest bidder for their follower counts.

Inaccurate photo description via @HistoryInPics; Photo of Hitchcock holding his dummy head via Vintag.es


10) Is this tarantula actually missing in New York?

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

No, there isn't a deadly, pregnant tarantula missing in Park Slope. As Gawker's Antiviral points out, lots of sites (including Gawker) fell for this prank poster. Let's just hope this doesn't turn into one of those boy-who-cried-tarantula situations.

Fake poster via Reddit


11) Is this really the pyramids of Egypt at sunset?

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

People love taking photos of the pyramids in Egypt. They've aged so gracefully they deserve their own mansplained Esquire profile or something. But that picture you may have seen recently of the sun setting behind the pyramids is a total fake. As internet photo-fakes sleuth @PicPedant points out, the original photo is most likely by Mario Moreno.

Fake photo via AmazingPicx; real photo via Mario Moreno


12) Is this a real ad for veggie burgers made with real beef?

12 More Viral Photos That Are Lying to You

"At last! A veggie burger that contains REAL BEEF!" Well, no. Slate points to Reddit detectives who have determined that as much as the internet wants this one to be some hilarious mix-up, it's actually a fake ad from the British humo[u]r magazine Viz. Oh, those cheeky Brits.

Fake ad via Imgur and Grubstreet


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