23 Popular Viral Photos That Turned Out To Be Completely Fake

There have been a number of subtly manipulated photos that have achieved viral status on the Internet due to their perceived authenticity. Later, they were found to be just the work of some Photoshop wizardry.

Well its official now, those internet photos which we deemed to be examples of genius photography or great snaps of natural beauty, well, most of them are fakes. Yes, those gracing your phone or wallpapers of PC’s desktops might be a fake too. Heartbreaking right? But it’s not your fault entirely because these are such clever pieces of photography and photoshopping that they could fool even the experts. From now on if a picture seems to be too fantastic to be true…perhaps it is.

These photos had jaws dropping. But not all was as it seems.

Here are 23 photographs that caused a buzz on the Internet but ended up actually being fake.

1. Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor

Photoshop has become continually more accessible for people to hone their photo-editing skills. However, this has also made it hard to determine if a picture on the Internet is authentic or if it’s been manipulated. When this photo of icons Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor made its rounds online, many fans could barely believe their eyes. A photograph of two icons of the era sharing the same frame seemed almost too good to be true, which of course ended up being the case. It was quickly determined that the photo was a composite made from two separate pictures that weren’t just taken by different photographers, but on different years and even on different continents. The photo of Marilyn Monroe was taken in 1950 by photographer Ed Clark in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. The other glamor shot of Elizabeth Taylor was taken two years prior, in 1948, in Hampstead, London by Mark Kauffman.

Hoax Off A Me / Tumblr

2. A purple forest in Scotland wasn’t purple

The Isle of Skye looks absolutely out of this world with those purple forests and fauna. The river surrounded by ravines graced with these grape purple forest are almost unworldly and have made thousands of people book their flight tickets just to see this marvel for themselves. You can guess their disappointment and perhaps rage when they see just green Scottish woods. In fact, the research found the picture was photoshopped (obviously) and shot at Shotover River in New Zealand!


3. An Island shaped like a star and a crescent: (this fooled many)

The reality

When researched it was found that the crescent island- Molokini is the only piece that’s real. The star was added using a photo editor.

4. One drop of seawater magnified 25 times (which was bunked)

A photo that went viral but the title of the picture is a dead giveaway as you can see the sides of the Petri dish! But for those who love to live in oblivion, we can elaborate further. In order to show so many plankton you’ll have to filter quite literally an entire swimming pool with a special net to gather them. Obviously once the water is filtered through; that plankton would even fit in a teacup. So just to be clear to have that many planktons in your tea cup….sorry Petri dish you’ll have to filter tones of water and not just a drop of seawater. wow, talk about taking the pill with a pinch of sea salt here!

Image Source: lostininternet.com

5. A woman sitting like a frog but she wasn’t

Thank God not many people (we guess) were fooled by this one as this is a clear case of photoshopping making her look flexible like one of the mutants of X-Men movies!

Image Source: viralru.com

6. An iceberg underwater: A viral photo that turned out false

Well, this culprit of a photo has tantalized generations of users to make it their computer wallpaper. It is breathtakingly beautiful and….fake! To make matters worse, it’s a combination of 4 different images. The creator of this heartbreaking fake is Ralph Clevenger, who later clarified that the clouds were snapped at Santa Barbara, California. The top of the iceberg was shot in Antarctica (Thank Goodness for that). The bottom part in Alaska which was just an ordinary iceberg photo which Ralph diabolically turned upside down to give us that 3-dimensional image. The lighting for the bottom glacier was just right to make it that much more impressive! Well…now we know what you did that summer Ralph!

Image Source: viralru.com

7. Twitter photo of shark swimming on the Houston highway during the hurricane flooding

Thank goodness we know this one is a fake as it would have seriously stopped many kids stepping out of their houses during monsoons in Houston anyway. This picture got viral after hurricane Irma hit on September 2017.

Image Source: viralru.com

Here’s reality

It’s nothing more than just a prank in which 2 pictures have been cleverly edited together.

Image Source: viralru.com

8. Picture of 4-year-old boy protecting his sister after an earthquake in Nepal

This was a tear jerker for the western world as this photograph was circulated after the devastating Nepal earthquake in April 25, 2015. Social networks were flooded with tragic pictures mostly involving kids and this one was the most profound one.

But this turned out fake when the actual photographer came forward to reveal the farce. Na Son Nguyen is the actual photographer who clicked these Vietnamese kids in 2007 IN VIETNAM. There was nothing tragic about this real picture, as told to BBC. Nguyen met the kids in a village playing while parents were busy at work, but the little girl got scared of the stranger and huddled close to her brother which made it too endearing for Nguyen to not click them. But later this same picture was titled the lost Orphans of Nepal, then Burma and now even Syria! To clear the mirth the photographer had to clarify again in twitter about the reality of this picture but it was way too viral on facebook by that time.

9. What happens when lightning strikes sand:

This picture actually reminds you that this specimen might be from Asgard or Planet Krypton which has lodged itself here on earth as they have cleverly named it thunderbolt! But in reality, it’s a quirky art piece created by Sandcastle Matt, in which he has artfully covered a piece of log with wet sand. He usually creates bizarre artworks for his Flickr account.

10. A cow warming itself on the hood of a car

This cute photoshopped picture was made viral thanks to our Surrey Road Police unit in October 18th, 2013 when they published it as a public message in their Twitter account and no one has been able to stop the popularity of the cow since then. This picture was meant to tell people about being more careful about animals hiding underneath (or over the hood as in the picture) their vehicles during snow as they all crave for warmth.

The reality

Since then this cow has invaded thousands of different websites and is a celebrity now. But for those with common sense as well as a sense of humor it’s clear the cow cannot possibly be on the hood of the car as its sheer weight would have crushed it. No one knows who actually created this great picture but Surrey Police sure made it larger than life!

11. A monster cat turned out a little monster

Remember the monster cat Snowball, well; Cordell Hauglie made his pet cat Jumper look like a monster mutant which supposedly weighs 87lbs because his mother lived near a nuclear reactor! (You can just imagine the size of his mother). He titled the photo of his cat as a snowball and posted it everywhere for his friends and family to see…without jumper’s permission by the way! Well… jumper/Snowball is an internet celebrity now albeit a small one.

Image Source: brightside.me

12. Steven Seagal photo bombing Vladimir Putin

Well, this picture, if it were real, could have started a war but thankfully, this is a fake which came out during Steven Seagal’s visit to a Russian Martial Arts School. He was photographed with none other than Vladimir Putin and other important sportsmen. It’s a fact, the actor was on his best behaviour throughout and this picture is a clear fake. Anyways no one has the courage to photobomb Putin!

Reddit /u/ Hulksterx

13. The Scream in Theresa May’s office

Well, this is a clear work of some art fanatic who wanted to put across his point which we are not quite sure is what? Anyways the painting of Edvard Munch’s scream hanging on the wall in the background of the Cabinet Ministers photo shoot with Theresa May of September 2016 was photo edited.

Image Source: .twimg.com

It was something else
In reality, there was a regal painting of an English Lady hanging there instead.

Image Source: independent.co.uk

14. The another side of Jupiter

Well in this story, the picture that you see is real. In fact, people were so sceptic that NASA authorized the image as the one of the many sent by the Cassini Space Probe around Saturn. It actually took the pictures of the Jupiter’s South Pole in 2000 and the image is even posted on the NASA website.

Image Source: http://www.nasa.gov

The proof proving that NASA photo was fake turned out Fake

But the “proof” picture which came out almost immediately that year to prove the actual picture was a fake- That as the real scam! The photo of the real image was cut, edited and pasted on a ball. Just to make us all non-believers!

Image Source: brightside.me

15. The large wolf spider

Paul Santa Maria manipulated a picture of a large wolf spider outside of his home and decided to play with Photoshop to make it have monstrous proportions. The photo ended up going viral and terrorizing arachnophobes everywhere. While the spider is still big enough to cause concern, Maria drastically resized the insect for his edit.


16. ‘Castle House Island’ in Dublin

This picture, which claimed to be ‘Castle House Island’ in Dublin, had many people believing that this castle adorned wine cork of an island was a real tourist destination. However, the image is just a hodgepodge of Thailand’s “James Bond Island” edited together with a select portion of Lichtenstein Castle in Germany.

Facebook / Definition.org

17. Moonmelon

A photo of a Japanese fruit known as the “Moonmelon” went viral and was even said to switch flavors after you eat it. However, this mysterious fruit ended up being nothing more than some color editing. The fake image was really just a normal slice of watermelon that was tinted blue.


18. The iconic MGM company logo

A clever photoshopper saw an opportunity for manipulation when they stumbled upon this image of a lion getting a CAT scan taken back in 2005. The image was edited to incorporate a mirrored shot of the iconic MGM company logo to make viewers think this is how the film production company’s vanity card was made. Many people fell for this manipulated image and some animal activists were even enraged at the sight.


19. Black Lion

Many were fooled by this image of a supposedly rare black lion, but it wasn’t long before the real picture emerged, proving that it had just been the work of some color manipulation. Black lions are not biologically impossible and although rare, documentation does exist. However, this image is purely editing.


20. Pilot’s selfie

This pilot’s selfie ended up making rounds online and many people believed that this brave pilot went above and beyond for this picture. However, the real picture was taken on the ground. That would have to be one incredibly strong and secure selfie stick to endure the winds up in the clouds.


21.  The crew having a close call with a bear

A supposed behind-the-scenes shot of a National Geographic shoot prompted many to believe the crew had one scarily close call with a bear that appeared to be chasing them. However, the original photo without the bear ended up surfacing and revealed that it had just been placed into the picture via Photoshop.


22. Tourist standing on the deck of the WTC on 9/11

A doctored photo of a tourist standing on the observation deck of the World Trade Center during the moment just prior to the September 11 attacks became an Internet phenomenon. The man in the photo was later identified and admitted that it was a edited photo from 1997 that he only intended to send to friends as a joke.


23. Art enthusiasts examining a blank wall

A doctored image of art enthusiasts examining a blank wall was quickly shared all over the Internet as it claimed to be from a New York City art exhibit where an artist was displaying invisible artwork. The photo ended up being revealed as a hoax after the original image with photo-adorned walls surfaced.


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