The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
 
Years Archived: 1840-1900, 1900-1919, 1920-1939, 1940-1959, 1960-1979, 1980-1999, 2000-2004, 2005-Present
Recurring Themes: Fake Viral Images, Photojournalism Fakery, Digital Plastic Surgery, Politics, Very Large Animals
Techniques of Fakery: Color Adjustment, Composites, Cropping, Deleted Details, Misleading Captions, Staged Scenes
The Hoax Photo Archive — A Gallery of Photo Fakery Throughout History
Recently Added Photos
The Ultimate Houseboat. (2014) 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." More…
A Man’s Portrait Retouched. (1895) In their 1895 work Photography: Artistic and Scientific, authors Robert Johnson and Arthur Brunel Chatwood offered an example of how retouching could improve a portrait. They also defended the practice, writing: "that judicious retouching is a very great advantage we have no doubt whatever; it is an absolute necessity, in our opinion, in order to obtain the best result, which is admittedly the object of all art." More…
Orphaned Syrian Boy Sleeping Between his Parents’ Graves.. (Jan 2014) 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. More…
Angolan Witch Spider. (2011) The Internet claims this spider was spotted on the side of a house in Texas and "it took several gun shots to kill it." In reality, this image is the creation of artist/photographer Paul Santa Maria, who took a photo of a normal-sized wolf spider outside his Florida home and then used Photoshop to expand it to gigantic proportions. More…
Brady Yawning. (2011) Circulating online since early 2012, with captions such as "Dogception" and "Perfect Timing Picture". Many assume the framed picture of the dog yawning in the background was digitally added. It wasn't. The shot was taken by photographer Jill Maguire in late 2011, who explains on her Flickr account that it's an unphotoshopped photo of her dog Brady yawning in front of a framed print of himself yawning. More…
Roosevelt Rides A Moose. (1912) Roosevelt ran for President in 1912 as the candidate of the Progressive Party, popularly known as the "Bull Moose Party." This image of Roosevelt appearing to ride a moose ran in the New York Tribune several months before the election. It was intended as a humorous photo fake depicting the "Race for the White House." In the 21st Century this image has circulated widely online, where many people have mistaken it for a photo of a real-life scene, which it is not. More…
Hercules, the World’s Biggest Dog. (2007) The massive dog in this photo is not named Hercules. It hasn't been deemed World's Biggest Dog by Guinness World Records. Nor is it an English Mastiff. However, all this incorrect info often circulates with the image. The identity and owner of the dog remains unknown. Its size here is presumed to be a result of image manipulation. However, other images show the same dog massively large. So there's a chance the dog's size is genuine. More…
Giant Squid in Santa Monica. (2014) 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. More…
Long Exposure of a Tree Struck by Lightning. (2013) 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. More…
Fireworks Over Europe. (2013) 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. More…
Lottery winner finds love of his life after big win. (2009) The photo shows Swedish glamour model Natacha Peyre posing with a fan. But the Internet has recaptioned this image to give it a more amusing story. Of course, this story is false. It's not known who the man in the photo is, but he's definitely not the winner of a $181 million lottery. The photo first surfaced with the false caption in 2009 and has been resurfacing periodically ever since. More…
What happens when lightning strikes sand. (2013) 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'. More…
Jennifer Aniston gets a buzzcut. (2013) 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". More…
Cow on hood of car. (Jan 2013) 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. More…
Santa’s Identity Revealed. (Dec 2013) 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." More…
Snow-Covered Sphinx. (2013) 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. More…
Cat Drinks From a Bottle. (1911) Unfortunately there's not a lot of information on where this photo comes from. It's listed on the website of the French National Library as having been created in 1911 by the "Agence Rol." photo agency. It's an amusing example of early twentieth-century photo fakery. Included in the same series are photos titled "cat peers through binoculars" and "cat looks through a telescope." More…
Paris Hilton Says ‘Stop Being Poor’. (Nov 2013) 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. More…
Fairy Pools. (Oct 2013) 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. More…
Digital Glitch Furniture. (2013) 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. More…
Angry Koala. (2012) 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. More…

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