The Big Viral Moments of 2020 That Were Totally Fake

The Big Viral Moments of 2020 That Were Totally Fake

Illustration for article titled The Big Viral Moments of 2020 That Were Totally Fake
Image: YouTube
Year In ReviewYear In ReviewWe look back at the best, worst, and most significant moments of the year, and look forward to next year.

We’re absolutely inundated with fake images these days. But 2020 really seemed to be filled with more fake viral videos and photos than even we could keep up with. Today, we present the fakes that really stood out, with perhaps too much from the fakes machine himself, President Trump—that guy who’s leaving office in weeks, not months. Don’t worry. We also have “farts.”

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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Graffiti Did Not Appear in Iran Thanking President Trump for an Assassination

Graffiti Did Not Appear in Iran Thanking President Trump for an Assassination

Illustration for article titled The Big Viral Moments of 2020 That Were Totally Fake
Image: Twitter

President Trump started 2020 with the assassination of a top Iranian official, Qassem Soleimani, by drone. Far-right media tried to make it look like Iranians supported Trump’s illegal assassination, including with this image that went viral. While the message is translated fairly accurately as “Thank you Trump” the photo was taken years before the assassination and was likely being used as part of a disinformation campaign.

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Farts Weren’t Captured by Thermal Cameras While Looking for Coronavirus

Farts Weren’t Captured by Thermal Cameras While Looking for Coronavirus

Gif: YouTube

Back in early February, the coronavirus was known to have sickened roughly 20,000 people and killed 427, most of them in China. The disease hadn’t even been given the name covid-19. But fake news was already spreading about different ways that governments were trying to monitor for the virus. This video went viral, supposedly showing people who were caught farting by covid-tracking thermal cameras. But the video was fake, made by a viral video creator site called Banana Factory in 2016.

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Trump Facebook Ad Used Protest Photo From Ukraine in 2014, Not U.S. in 2020

Trump Facebook Ad Used Protest Photo From Ukraine in 2014, Not U.S. in 2020

Gif: Facebook

President Donald Trump pumped out a lot of fake content in 2020, including this official image from a Facebook ad campaign. People who saw the ad, which went live in July, would probably assume photo of protesters clashing with police was taken in the United States sometime this year. In reality, the photo is from Ukraine. In 2014, no less.

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Grotesque Viral Photo of President Trump Actually Fake

Grotesque Viral Photo of President Trump Actually Fake

Illustration for article titled The Big Viral Moments of 2020 That Were Totally Fake
Image: AP/Twitter

A bizarre photo of President Donald Trump made the rounds far and wide on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit this year, but the image wasn’t quite authentic. The fake image was created by Vic Berger IV, a viral video and image creator who works with comedians Tim & Eric. The original photo was taken by Associated Press photographer Evan Vucci in Minneapolis on October 10, 2019, at one of Trump’s neo-fascist rallies.

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Viral Photo of Ernest With Jeffrey Epstein Is Actually Fake

Viral Photo of Ernest With Jeffrey Epstein Is Actually Fake

Illustration for article titled The Big Viral Moments of 2020 That Were Totally Fake
Image: Getty Images/Twitter

Did Ernest have some problematic friends? Not really. The photo on the right popped up on social media platforms this year, appearing to show the late comedian Jim Varney with the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. But the real photo shows Varney with the late comedian Robin Williams at Bally’s Grand Casino Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 12, 1987, according to Getty Images.

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Viral Video of Man Burning Trump Ballots Is Totally Fake

Viral Video of Man Burning Trump Ballots Is Totally Fake

Gif: Twitter

There were plenty of fake photos and videos circulating before the 2020 presidential election, but this video of some guy supposedly burning Trump ballots probably takes the cake for misinformation. The names on the ballots indicate they’re actually sample ballots from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and election officials in that city say the sheets of paper don’t include barcode markings that would be visible on proper ballots. The city even had to release a public statement saying they weren’t real ballots, though we never learned who made the video.

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That Viral Video of an ‘Apple Car’ Parking Is Totally Fake

That Viral Video of an ‘Apple Car’ Parking Is Totally Fake

Illustration for article titled The Big Viral Moments of 2020 That Were Totally Fake
Image: Twitter

This Apple Car video went viral on TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube, but unfortunately it’s completely fake. The video acquired over five million views on Twitter alone, but was actually an altered version of a concept car first designed in 2013, the Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo. 

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Fox News Edits Trump Out of Photo With Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at Mar-a-Lago

Fox News Edits Trump Out of Photo With Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at Mar-a-Lago

Gif: Fox News/Gizmodo

Sometimes a fake image is more about omission than creating something from scratch. In this case, Fox News decided to edit a photo of Jeffrey Epstein and cut out the president for some reason. The original photo, which is available online at Getty Images, shows Donald Trump, his then-girlfriend Melania (now the First Lady), Jeffrey Epstein, and Ghislane Maxwell. The photo was taken at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida on February 12, 2000. Twitter users were the first to spot the strange edit by Fox News.

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Viral Video of CNN Hiding Its Pornhub Tab Is Completely Fake

Viral Video of CNN Hiding Its Pornhub Tab Is Completely Fake

Illustration for article titled The Big Viral Moments of 2020 That Were Totally Fake
Image: CNN/Twitter

This video of CNN host John King went viral after the 2020 presidential election, supposedly showing King hiding a Pornhub tab while announcing election results. The video racked up over 6.5 million views but the entire thing was fake.

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Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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