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This is one of those fake viral images that you'd think everyone would recognize immediately to be a joke. And yet, quite a few people seem to take it seriously, such as the people on this reddit thread where it was recently posted.

The woman is the Swedish actress, singer, and glamour model Natacha Peyre. The guy next to her remains unidentified. He's probably just a fan that she agreed to pose for a photo with. According to reports, Peyre has been dating Swedish pop singer Dhani Lennevald for a number of years, and he's not the guy in the photo, nor is he a $181 million lottery winner.

Below is a larger, slightly brighter version of the image, minus the breaking-news banner. In it you can see that behind Peyre there appears to be a poster of her. So this photo must have been taken at a publicity event of some kind for one of her shows. The guy's expression definitely is classic.

The first references to the image started popping up around March 2009 (such as here). The TVN Breaking News banner was added about two years later.

The TVN banner is a fake-news template available on It can be added to any photo one wishes, with customized headlines, such as in the examples below.

Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 02, 2014
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In June 2013, the image below started to circulate online. It was launched into viral status after being posted on Reddit, where it was captioned, "This is what happens when lightning strikes sand."

When lightning strikes sand, it can form fulgurites, which are also known as "lightning tubes" or "petrified lightning". Tonya Clayton offers a good, one-sentence explanation of what these are:

"If the in-ground moisture content is just right, the sand melts and fuses, forming beautiful glassy tubes whose branches record the lightning's path."
-How to read a Florida Gulf Coast Beach

Is that thing in the picture a fulgurite? No, it isn't. The picture has been falsely captioned.

Fulgurites form within the sand, and only appear above it if the sand erodes away around them. A fulgurite of that size would be extremely valuable, and most likely would already have been carted away to a museum. It wouldn't be sitting on a beach surrounded by holiday-goers, any one of whom could potentially break it.

What the image really shows is a piece of driftwood with sand piled on top of it.

The structure was created and photographed by a guy who goes by the name "Sandcastle Matt" on his Flickr photostream.

He described the structure as "the biggest sandcastle I've ever made." The viral photo showed less than half of it. Here's the full thing:

And here's Sandcastle Matt at work creating another sandcastle.

Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 30, 2013
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April 1, 2013 — the site Daily Makeover (which describes itself as "Hairstyles, Makeup and Cosmetics Inspiration") posted a photo of Jennifer Aniston with a buzzcut. The site claimed that Aniston had cut off her hair for a role in a film and quoted her as saying, "My character gets to this really broken point, and [director] Daniel [Schechter] and I thought it would make her more realistic."

But actually, the photo was the site's April Fool joke. It had doctored an image of Aniston (below) taken while she was attending the 2006 premiere of Friends with Money.

But demonstrating the adage that on the internet nothing ever really goes away, it just gets recycled endlessly, that same April Fool picture has recently begun making the social media rounds, accompanied by a caption claiming that Aniston shaved off her hair as a way of showing her support for a niece diagnosed with cancer.

Aniston's rep told "It's nonsense and I am not aware of any niece with cancer."
Categories: Celebrities, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 26, 2013
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Currently trending online is this set of pictures showing a chocolate rabbit inside a St. Nicholas wrapper. The photos are accompanied by captions such as "Santa's identity revealed" or "an unexpected plot twist":

Is this a case of a chocolate manufacturer repackaging chocolate Easter bunnies for the Christmas market? No. The images actually come from a Dutch ad campaign designed to promote awareness of Alzheimer's disease.

The original ad includes a third image showing the chocolate rabbit more fully unwrapped, revealing a message that says "Alzheimer's patients are coping with this feeling daily." Or, in the original Dutch, "Met dit gevoel hebben Alzheimerpatienten dagelijks te kampen."

The ad was created by the ad agency N=5 for the client Alzheimer Nederland. [Links:,]

Categories: Advertising, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Sun Dec 22, 2013
Comments (0)
This image of a cow lying on the hood of a BMW began circulating online around January 2013.

At first, the image didn't attract much attention. It circulated with captions such as ""Got Milk!", "Fail Safe Auto Alarm," and "The Ground Is Lava. LOL".

But on Nov 18, 2013, the Surrey Roads Police department posted the image 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."

This launched the image into the viral stratosphere, as it was soon retweeted thousands of times and then spread onto facebook and other sites.

The Surrey Roads Police Department has occasionally been credited with creating the image. But no, they didn't create it. (It's not known who created it). I don't think the Surrey Roads Police even were the first to associate the image with the warning about animals being attracted to the warmth of cars, but they were definitely instrumental in popularizing the image.

Is the image real? Of course not. As others have pointed out, if a cow were lying on a car like that, the front of the car would be sagging under the weight.

But we don't need to resort to image analysis to know it's fake, since the original photo of the cow, which can be found on the Russian photo site, is easy enough to find via a Google image search. In the original, the cow is lying down, as one would expect, in a field.

Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Sat Dec 21, 2013
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Photos of the Sphinx covered in snow have recently gone viral, on the heels of reports of the first snowfall in Cairo for 112 years.

These photos haven't been digitally manipulated. However, they don't show THE Sphinx in Egypt covered in snow. Instead, what they show is a miniature model of the Sphinx located in the Tobu World Square theme park in Japan. The theme park has miniature models of many other famous attractions from around the world. (You can actually see the Eiffel Tower poking up behind the pyramid in the bottom photo.)

Here's a photo that shows just how small the Tobu Sphinx model really is:

The snow-covered Sphinx photos reminded me of this 1938 April Fool photo of "Skiing in Egypt":

Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Sat Dec 14, 2013
Comments (2)
The Mandela-themed hoaxes continue. Kenyan senator Mike Sonko recently posted to his facebook page a photo of himself posing with Nelson Mandela. It's such an awful photoshop job, that it's hardly even worth debunking. Still, for what it's worth, the original image that he doctored was one of Mandela posing with Muhammad Ali. []

Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Sat Dec 14, 2013
Comments (0)
On Thursday, an image purporting to be a death photo of Nelson Mandela began circulating online.

The photo — a greenish-tinged shot of Mandela with his eyes closed — was originally posted on twitter by someone with the username @nQOW_bee.

IOL news reported: "In between tweets about the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial at FNB Stadium on Tuesday, which is her sexiest body part, and how she can’t stick to a healthy diet, she posted a picture of Mandela with the words 'He is resting'."

The image was soon retweeted, but in response to a massive negative response, the twitter user subsequently claimed that she hadn't taken the picture: "urgh suka! I did not take the pic"... it was "some Indian guy".

Subsequently @nQOW_bee's account was deleted.

By the end of the day, the "death photo" was revealed to be a falsely captioned image of Mandela closing his eyes during an ANC conference in Durban in July 1991. The original photo had been taken by photographer Trevor Samson for Agence France-Presse. The AFP posted the fake death photo and the original side-by-side for comparison.

Categories: Death, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 13, 2013
Comments (0)

There's not a lot of info 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. For 1911, it's a pretty good example of photo fakery.

Also included in the same series is "Cat peers through binoculars" and "cat looks through a telescope."

Found these over at
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 03, 2013
Comments (0)

This image shows Soviet pilot Valentin Privalov flying a MiG-17 under the central span of the Communal Bridge over the River Ob in Novosibirsk on June 4, 1965.

The story goes (as much as I can piece it together) that Privalov did this on his own initiative, as a stunt. The shore of the river was filled with vacationers, among whom were officers from the district headquarters, when suddenly the MiG came roaring out of the sky. Afterwards the crowd spontaneously started to applaud, but Privalov's superiors weren't happy, and they suspended him. He was threatened with disciplinary action, but Secretary of Defense Marshal Malinovsky (perhaps swayed by positive public reaction to the stunt) allowed him to return to service.

The photo found its way onto the internet fairly recently. It first appeared on various Russian-language forums, and then on sites such as Reddit. Unfortunately, I can't find any site that provides an original source for the image. I'm guessing that it must have run in a Russian newspaper or magazine, sometime circa 1965.

The photo is obviously fake. The plane wouldn't have created such a huge plume of water. And how likely is it that someone would have managed to capture a picture of the scene at exactly the right moment? And if you look closely, you can see several people in the lower-right corner who have their backs turned to the bridge. In real life, the noise of the jet would have caused everyone to look in that direction.

But I'm guessing this image was never presented to the public as a real photo. It was a photographer's recreation of the event, and nothing more.

The better question is, did this stunt really happen? As far as I can tell, it did. The story is referenced on the Russian-language wikipedia page about the Communal Bridge in Novosibirsk. (It says that the event happened on June 3, not June 4, so there seems to be some disagreement about the dates.)

Also, I found a reference to the stunt in an American news-wire article dated Aug 29, 1965, which discusses a recent spate of hooliganism in Novosibirsk, including "a drunk who stole a streetcar," "an aircraft mechanic who went on a joyride up and down runways in an Ilyushin 4 transport," and "a stunt flier who flew under bridges."

Albuquerque Journal - Aug 29, 1965

I haven't been able to find any definitive info about Privalov's subsequent career. But I did come across a reference to a Valentin Privalov in the Feb 21, 1993 issue of Stars and Stripes. He was described as being "deputy head of Russia's civil aviation air traffic control center in Moscow." So it could well have been the same guy.
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 03, 2013
Comments (1)
The International Business Times reports that a "fake image" purporting to show the "world's largest tortoise" being transported on a flatbed truck has recently been circulating online.

I think it's been circulating for at least half a year, but it's not correct to call it a fake image. It's a still from Gamera The Brave (a 2006 Japanese monster movie) that has been falsely captioned. Here's another picture of the "world's largest tortoise" in action:

The question that popped into my head is whether the creature in the image is a tortoise or a turtle. The distinction between the two has always been a bit hazy in my mind.

According to, tortoises live on land while turtles live in the water. But wikipedia notes that in North America it's common to use 'turtle' as a generic term for all reptiles of the chelonian order (i.e. turtles and tortoises get lumped together).

Gamera is commonly referred to as both a turtle and a tortoise. But since he walks on his back legs, flies, and breathes fire, it doesn't really seem important to get fussy about what kind of reptile he's classified as.
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 26, 2013
Comments (1)
When tornadoes struck the Midwest last week, some unusual photo fakes managed to get past the media fact-checkers who try to catch these things before publishing or broadcasting them.

The WTHR website posted a photo (submitted by an "iwitness contributor") that showed downtown Lafayette being threatened by both a fake tornado and a UFO. []

The fake — with red arrow added by reporter Eric Weddle to show the UFO

The original

And Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM ran a tornado photo that included a small man-cow love sign photoshopped into the bottom-left corner. The photo itself actually showed a tornado in Oklahoma several months earlier. [deadspin]

Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Sun Nov 24, 2013
Comments (0)
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