About the Hoax Photo Database
The Hoax Photo Database catalogs examples of photo fakery, from the beginnings of photography up to the present. Included in the database are photos that are "real," but which have been suspected of being fake, as well as images whose veracity remains undetermined. The photos are displayed in chronological order (or reverse-chronological). They're categorized by theme, technique of fakery (if known), and time period. See below for the full list of categories.

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hoax photo database
The Missile Launcher Vanishes
Status: Fake (cloned-in details)
Date: July 9, 2008
On July 9, 2008 Iran announced it had successfully test-fired missiles with a range of 1,200 miles. An image of the test-firing (top), showing the launch of four missiles at an undisclosed location in the Iranian desert, was made available by Sepah News, the media arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRG). The image was used by many media outlets, including The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, BBC News, and NYTimes.com.

However, a photo of the test-firing showing only three missiles launching (bottom), emerged the same day. It first appeared on the Iranian news website Jamejam. Closer examination revealed that the first photo had been doctored. One of the missiles (second from the right) had been digitally created by cutting-and-pasting together elements of the other missiles. This was apparently done by the IRG in an attempt to conceal the failure of one of the missiles to launch.

Security experts later speculated that the missiles themselves may not even have been new technology. They may, in reality, have been 10-year-old missiles with only a 900-mile range.
Technique: Cloning. Time Period: 2005-Present.
Themes: Military, Weapons, Photojournalism,.
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A Whiter Beyonce
Status: Fake (altered color)
Date: August 2008
Cosmetics maker L'Oreal placed an ad (top) in the September 2008 issues of Elle, Allure and Essence featuring singer Beyonce. The ad quickly generated controversy when critics complained that Beyonce's skin color appeared to have been lightened in the photo. The entertainment website TMZ compared the ad to another photo (bottom) that showed Beyonce with much darker skin color.

L'Oreal denied lightening Beyonce's skin color, issuing a statement that, "It is categorically untrue that L'Oreal Paris altered Ms. Knowles' features or skin tone in the campaign for Feria hair color." Advertising experts also noted that Beyonce's paler skin color may have been the result of "creative touchups" or of the lighting used during the photoshoot.

Nevertheless, whether the adjustment was deliberate or not, it is evident that the singer's skin color in the ad was paler than her normal shade.
References:
L'Oreal denies lightening Beyonce's skin in ad. (Aug 8, 2008). Newsday.
L'Oreal/Beyonce Whitewash. (Aug 6, 2008). TMZ.com.
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Sarah Palin in Bikini
Status: Fake (composite)
Date: September 2008

The image (above, left) showing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin posing in an American flag bikini while holding a gun started to circulate online soon after she was chosen as John McCain's Vice-Presidential candidate.

The image was created by an unknown hoaxer who removed Palin's head from a photo (above, middle) showing Palin marching in the Chugiak July 4 Parade. The hoaxer then pasted Palin's head onto the body of a bikini-wearing model (above, right). Both of the source images had originally been posted on Flickr.com.

Although the image was quickly debunked, an entertainment reporter for CNN's American Morning appeared to believe it was authentic, telling Howard Kurtz, host of Reliable Sources, that the McCain campaign needed to beware of people thinking that Palin "looks good in a bikini clutching an AK-47, but is she equipped to run the country?"

A second fake image (right, top) that also circulated online showed Governor Palin posing in a miniskirt. It seemed plausible that at some point in her life she may have been photographed wearing such a skirt. But it turned out that her head had been pasted onto the body of another (unknown) woman.

The original image of Palin (right, bottom), from which her head had been taken, had been posted to Flickr in February 2007. It showed her wearing an evening gown.
References:
Bikini Picture:
Original Bikini Picture, Flickr
Original source of Palin's head, Flickr
Sarah Palin posing w/ Rifle, About.com.
CNN Duped by Palin Photoshop, Gawker.com.

Miniskirt Picture:
The hottest photo of Alaska's governor on the Internet, Valleywag.com.
Governor Palin and Me, Flickr.
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U.S. Army Releases Doctored Photographs
Status: Fake (composite)
Date: September 2008
The U.S. Army at Fort Stewart in Georgia released two photos of recently deceased soldiers, Sgt. Wesley Durbin (top) and Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson (bottom). The two sergeants had been killed in the same incident, shot by another soldier at a base in Iraq.

Bob Owen, chief photographer of the San Antonio Express-News, noticed that the photos were almost identical. All details were the same except for the soldiers' face, name, and rank. It appeared that Dawson's head had been pasted onto Durbin's body.

The Associated Press subsequently issued a retraction order on the photos, noting for each photo that "The content of this image has been digitally altered and does not accurately reflect the scene."

The army later apologized for the incident, explaining that, since Dawson's unit did not have an official photo of him, one had been created for a memorial service. The photo had apparently been released to the media by accident.
References:
• McGinley, Megan. (Sep 19, 2008). Army Alters Photographs, issues them to AP. Columbia Journalism Review.
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The Fake General Dunwoody
Status: Altered background and face
Date: November 2008
In November 2008 Ann Dunwoody was promoted to the rank of four-star general, making her the first female four-star general in U.S. history. To publicize the event, the U.S. Army released a photo of Dunwoody to the media. However, Bob Owen, Director of Photography at the San Antonio Express-News, noticed that the image (top) appeared to have been altered, and he soon found the original version (bottom) on the internet.

In the original image, Dunwoody could be seen sitting in an office with a bookshelf behind her. This background had been replaced by a U.S. flag. In addition, her face had been smoothed to make her appear more youthful.

The Army insisted the manipulation of the photo did not violate army policy, which only prohibits the editing of images "to misrepresent the facts or change the circumstances of an event."

Nevertheless, since this was the second incident in two months in which the Army had been caught supplying altered images to the media (see the case of Staff Sgt. Dawson from Sep. 2008), the Associated Press suspended the further use of photos provided by the Defense Department.
References:
• Row over altered US Army photo. (Nov 19, 2008). BBC.
• Army manipulated general's photo. (Nov. 15, 2008). Associated Press.
• Photoshop, Part III. (Nov. 14, 2008). Columbia Journalism Review.
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Dati’s Disappearing Ring
Status: Deleted detail
Date: Nov 19, 2008
On November 19, 2008 the french paper Le Figaro ran a photo of France's justice minister Rachida Dati on its front page. The photo (top) showed her with her left hand held to the side of her head, a concerned expression on her face.

But the next day, the rival L'Express revealed that the picture had been doctored to remove a large diamond ring on Dati's hand. The original (bottom) had been taken in June.

Dati had been criticized for her opulent fashion tastes. The erasure of the ring was seen as an attempt by Le Figaro, a conservative paper, to downplay Dati's frivolous image and present her as a more serious figure. Le Figaro's photo editor was quoted as saying that they erased the ring because "We didn't want the ring to become the object of controversy". The photo editor emphasized that Miss Dati had "absolutely nothing to do with the decision."
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Viagra Corporate Headquarters
Status:
Date: 2009
Technique: False Captions. Time Period: 2005-Present.
Themes: Architecture, Humor, viral images,.
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Lottery winner finds love of his life after big win
Status:
Date: 2009
Technique: False Captions. Time Period: 2005-Present.
Themes: Romance, viral images,.
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The Cleavage Disappears
Status:
Date: 2011
Technique: Deleted Details. Time Period: 2005-Present.
Themes: Politics,.
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Brady Yawning
Status:
Date: 2011

This photo has been 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 really is a photo of her dog Brady yawning in front of a photo of himself yawning:

This photo was picked up on Facebook and I even found a Reddit thread on it. Cracks me up to have people debating my Photoshop skills. This isn't Photoshopped! It's simply a picture of Brady yawning in front of a framed print of him yawning.**
 
I ordered a big framed copy of "Rawr" and hung it in our bedroom. I knew I wanted to get a shot like this, but I didn't expect it to happen when I had my camera packed up and was on my way to a pet photography shoot. Brady had just gotten on the bed and I knew there was a good chance he'd yawn. I was right. Next time I'll make sure the bed is made!



Rawr, by Jill Maguire
Technique: . Time Period: .
Themes: Real But Suspected Of Being Fake,.
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