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2014
The Ultimate Houseboat
The boat is a VARD Offshore Subsea Construction Vessel. In real life it does not carry a house on its helipad. The composite image was created by a Norwegian construction firm as a humorous way to illustrate its campaign urging people to "Realize your dream home in the New Year!" The image subsequently began circulating online, captioned as the "ultimate houseboat."
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Jan 2014
Orphaned Syrian Boy Sleeping Between his Parents’ Graves.
The photo, as captioned, tugged at the heartstrings. So it was no surprise that it quickly went viral. But it was soon revealed to be a staged shot taken by a photographer in Saudi Arabia as part of a conceptual art project. The graves were fake, and the boy was the photographer's nephew.
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2014
Giant Squid in Santa Monica
This photo accompanied an article that ran on the site lightlybraisedturnip.com in January 2014, claiming that a giant squid (grown to mutant size because of Fukushima radiation) had washed ashore near Santa Monica. The article was intended as satire. Nevertheless, the image soon began to circulate online. The image was a composite of a squid washed ashore in Spain and a beach scene in Chile.
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2013
Long Exposure of a Tree Struck by Lightning
Photographer Darius Twin created this image using the technique of 'light painting,' which involves moving a hand-held light source in front of the camera. After he posted it on his Facebook page in October 2013, it soon went viral. However, the Internet recaptioned it with the claim that it was an actual image of lightning striking a tree. In its original context, it was clearly an art photo.
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2013
Snow-Covered Sphinx
In early December 2013, it snowed in Egypt for the first time in 112 years. Soon this photo of the Sphinx covered in snow began to circulate online. Problem was, the photo doesn't show the Egyptian Sphinx. It shows a miniature Sphinx located in the Tobu World Square theme park in Japan. This theme park features miniature models of many famous attractions from around the world.
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Dec 2013
Santa’s Identity Revealed
This set of images circulated widely accompanied by captions such as "Santa's identity revealed" or "an unexpected plot twist." The images were not fake, but they were taken out of their original context. They came from a Dutch ad campaign to promote awareness of Alzheimer's disease and were accompanied by a third image showing the rabbit fully unwrapped, revealing a message: "Alzheimer's patients are coping with this feeling daily."
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2013
Jennifer Aniston gets a buzzcut
Originally posted to the site "Daily Makeover" on April 1, 2013 as an April Fool Day joke, this photoshopped picture of Jennifer Aniston with a buzzcut began circulating widely in Dec. 2013 along with a caption claiming that Aniston had cut her hair to show sympathy for a niece with cancer. A rep for Aniston stated that Aniston had no such niece, and the claim was "nonsense".
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Nov 2013
Paris Hilton Says ‘Stop Being Poor’
The original, undoctored version of this photo, taken by photographer Vince Flores at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas on April 15, 2005, showed Paris Hilton wearing a t-shirt that said, "Stop Being Desperate." The altered version began circulating in late 2013. The reworded message played on Hilton's reputation for being somewhat shallow and spoiled by her inherited wealth.
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Jan 2013
Cow on hood of car
This image achieved internet fame when, on 18 Nov 2013, the Surrey Roads Police department posted it on its twitter account accompanied by the message: "Remember as days get colder animals are attracted to the warmth of cars so check wheel arches or other hiding places." However, the image had been circulating since early 2013. Its creator is unknown. The cow on the hood of the BMW is, of course, a product of digital manipulation.
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Oct 2013
Fairy Pools
As this photo circulated online, identified as "The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland," it attracted comments such as "oh my this is beyond beautiful." There are waterfalls on the Isle of Skye known as the Fairy Pools, but that's not what this photo shows. It shows the Shotover River in New Zealand, where the vegetation is a normal shade of green. The vivid purple color is a digital effect, achieved by means of a color filter.
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2013
What happens when lightning strikes sand
When lightning strikes sand, it can fuse the sand into long glassy tubes called fulgurites. However, the structure in this photo, despite the caption which the internet has given it, is not a fulgurite. It is a piece of driftwood with sand piled on top of it. This is a case of 'real picture, fake caption'.
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2013
Digital Glitch Furniture
Web postings of this image often claim it shows "an actual piece of carefully carved furniture" created by designer Ferruccio Laviani who used computer-aided machine tools to make it appear as if the cabinet had been deformed by a "digital glitch". Laviani did create a line of "glitch" furniture for a 2013 exhibition. But this photo was a mock-up used to illustrate his concept. It doesn't show one of the finished pieces.
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2013
Fireworks Over Europe
This photo is often said to show a satellite's view of the fireworks over Europe at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. It first circulated in Jan 2013 and returned in 2014. Of course, Europe isn't all in the same time zone, so the New Year's Eve fireworks don't all go off at the same moment. Nor do they create such intense illumination. This is actually a color-coded NOAA image showing changes in illumination in Europe from 1993-2003.
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2012
Angry Koala
This koala looks quite vicious, but in reality koalas do not have wolf-life jaws. The original photo of a wet koala (with its mouth shut) was taken in Jan 2009 by Flickr user Oz_drdolittle. It was hot so he had sprayed it with water. In 2012, someone digitally added wolf fangs to the koala, and the resulting image quickly went viral.
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2012
Japanese Moon Melon
The caption that frequently accompanies this image claims that this colorful fruit is known as 'moon melon' in Japan, where it's grown. Also, it can "switch flavors after you eat it. Everything sour will taste sweet, and everything salty will taste bitter, and it gives water a strong orange-like taste." None of this is true. The fruit in the picture is just regular red watermelon that's been colored blue via Photoshop.
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2012
A Black Lion
It's biologically possible for lions to be black, and there have been reports of such creatures over the years. Although many of these reports may have been due to observation in poor light or strong sunlight behind the cat. However, the lion in this photo is not actually black. It's a white lion that was colored black through photo manipulation. The altered photo was posted on deviantart.com in early 2012 and quickly went viral.
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Feb 2012
Romney Family Misspells Their Name
As Romney campaigned for the Presidency, this picture started to circulate online, accompanied by the caption: "Romney's family misspell their last name in the greatest Freudian slip in history." However, that's not Romney's family. It's actually the Fisher family, who got up on stage with him during a campaign stop in Elko, Nevada. They wore t-shirts that did correctly spell his name. The misspelling was the result of photo alteration.
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2012
Romney Gets A Shoeshine
During the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, a photo circulated online that appeared to show Mitt Romney getting a shoe shine as his private jet waited behind him — an appearance reinforced by a caption that claimed this was the case. In reality, the picture dated to 2008 and showed Romney sitting for a security check before boarding a plane in Denver, Colorado. The man in the red jacket was waving a security wand over Romney's shoe.
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