Last year we debunked dozens of fake photos on the internet. So you might be wondering how 2016 might stack up in terms of volume. Well, it’s only January and this enormous fake-photo Xerox machine we like to call “the internet” shows no signs of depleting its pixelated toner anytime soon.
Here are nine images that we saw tossed around the internet recently. And none of them are what they appear to be at first glance.
1) Is this David Bowie with Lemmy from Motorhead?
With the recent deaths of both David Bowie and Lemmy from Motorhead, we’re seeing an incredible amount of images floating around as tributes to these music icons. But the photo above is completely fake.
According to Getty Images, the real photo of Lemmy is from June of 1972 and shows him with his “French girlfriend” at the time. It’s not clear who first created this fantastical photographic wonder, but our hats are off to them — it looks pretty legit.
Fake photo via Twitter
2) Is this a kangaroo tenderly cradling a dying friend?
When this photo was first published in the Australian press, people were touched. What an incredibly sad moment: A mother kangaroo is dying, but her loyal mate is raising her head so that she can see her joey one last time. But, um, how do I say this? The male kangaroo isn’t facilitating a loving moment so much as trying to make a little love himself. Which is to say that he’s trying to have disgusting marsupial intercourse with a dead or dying female.
I reached out to Dr. Mark Eldridge, a research scientist at the Australia Museum Research Institute, to confirm that this is just a case of humans anthropomorphizing the behavior of animals. Eldridge explained:
It looks like a pretty straightforward case of ‘courtship’ behavior – but with a moribund or dead female.
The male appears to be trying to get the female onto her feet so he can mate. For reasons we are not sure of she is moribund or dead so is not responding.
The other evidence that he’s not so much giving her a hug? He’s got a raging kangaroo hard-on. No joke. It’s easier to see from other pictures of the encounter, which I’ll let you click through on your own if you really want to see them. But you can also just take my word for it. (Just take my word for it.)
Misleading caption via PETA
3) Is this Marilyn Monroe and James Dean?
Marilyn Monroe and James Dean both led glamorous, incredibly short lives. Which is perhaps why they’re so often pasted together in photoshopped fabrications like this one.
The original photo of Marilyn was taken in March of 1955 on top of the Ambassador Hotel in New York. I haven’t been able to figure out precisely who took the original photo of Dean, but judging by the sweater Dean’s wearing I’m guessing it’s a behind the scenes shot from his 1955 film East of Eden.
Below we can see Dean wearing the same sweater in a screenshot from East of Eden, based on John Steinbeck’s 1952 book of the same name.
Fake photo via VeryOldPics
4) Is this guy giving away his Powerball winnings?
Whenever the Powerball jackpot gets big enough, social media becomes inundated with fakes. Sometimes it’s just liars claiming to have won the prize. But other times, it’s liars claiming to have won the prize who want to share some of it with you. As you can see from the Twitter screenshot above we have a case of the latter with this most recent Powerball win.
Multiple accounts have shared the image, with some claiming that with enough retweets or shares, they’ll give some of the winnings to random strangers. The only problem is that the ticket is a photoshopped fake.
The whole stunt is obviously a modern-day version of the chain letter, offering untold riches to people spreading bullshit information. There really is nothing new under the sun. Especially when it comes to lotto scams.
Fake image via Erik Bragg
5) Is this Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey hanging out?
Despite what social media accounts like HistoryInPics might claim, this photo of Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey standing side by side is totally fake.
The original photo of Del Rey dates back to 2012 when she was attending a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert (hence the flannel look). The Winehouse photo is from March of 2011. Winehouse died just a few months later on July 23, 2011.
Not only is the Winehouse-Del Rey shot a composite photo, you can clearly tell that the original photo of Del Rey has been flipped horizontally. She’s wearing an AC/DC t-shirt that’s backwards, and not in some intentional too-cool-to-print-it-normal way. It’s backwards in the I-want-to-photoshop-them-looking-in-the-same-direction way.
6) Is this a quote from Alan Rickman?
People have taken to social media to memorialize Alan Rickman who died recently. But in the process, some people are passing around a debunked meme.
When I’m 80 years old and sitting in my rocking chair, I’ll be reading Harry Potter. And my family will say to me, ‘After all this time?’ And I will say, ‘Always.’ - Alan Rickman
Sadly for Harry Potter fans, Rickman never actually said this. As Buzzfeed points out, the quote seems to originate on Tumblr circa 2010. At that point it wasn’t attributed to Rickman and was rather just something said in earnest by a fan of the Harry Potter series of books.
The most awkward part of this meme? Rickman never actually read the books.
Fake quote via HistoricalPics
7) Is this a frozen spider web?
No, this isn’t some gigantic frozen spider web. As Snopes points out, it’s actually an ice sculpture that was on display at the Helsinki Zoo in 2011. When the photo is spread across social media it’s usually cropped a bit tighter so that it’s hard to tell just how large the web (sorry, sculpture) really is.
[Update January 24, 2016: It seems there are plenty of people now passing this one around as being from the blizzard currently hitting the East Coast of the US.]
Fake via TheMindBlowing
8) Is this a September 11th themed ad for Chipotle?
Never Forget... How Big Our Burritos Are. That’s the text from an alleged ad for Chipotle showing a tinfoil airplane crashing into two foil-wrapped burritos made to look like the World Trade Center. But, of course, it’s a fake.
Chipotle took to Twitter to deny that they had anything to do with the ad. They also said that they’re trying to track down whoever made the image.
Which leads to an interesting question... Does Chipotle have its own Troll Police department? Perhaps an office somewhere of people click-clacking away, making sure that nobody makes jokes in poor taste at Chipotle’s expense?
If that’s the case, they must be pretty busy of late, what with all the E. Coli coursing through America’s favorite fast-casual vomit factory.
Fake image via Imgur
9) Is this a selfie taken in Brazil?
No, this isn’t the “world’s greatest selfie” or whatever caption you may have seen on social media. It’s an admittedly well done fake. The original photo appears on Instagram, sans the “selfie” aspect of the photo. A Reddit user even made a gif to show how it was done.
Admittedly, it seems like a strangely banal photo to alter. But it just goes to show, even the most straightforward looking images on the internet might be lies.
Fake via Earth Pics
Seen any fake photos in your social media streams recently? Send them to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.