Another day, another fake image getting passed around as real. Today we have everything from posing puppies to sketchy satellites to underwater trains that are just too good to be true. Always remember the first rule of viral image safety: be aware before you share.
1) Is this Los Angeles during the 1994 blackout?
Much of Los Angeles suffered a power outage after the city’s devastating 6.7 earthquake in 1994. The blackout decreased the city’s light pollution and residents got a rare look at the stars as they hadn’t seen them before. But, no, the image above doesn’t show that blackout in 1994.
Photographer Thierry Cohen creates photo mashups depicting the night sky over major cities, as if all the lights had gone out. And Cohen’s image above (just one in a series) is now getting shared online to tell the story of how some people in Los Angeles reportedly called police to ask about the “strange sky” they were seeing after the quake.
But the story of panicked Angelenos who were supposedly terrified of the stars seems to become more and more exaggerated with each passing year. It may have actually happened, but I have yet to actually verify one case of someone calling 911 about any strange lights in the sky. However, the local Griffith Observatory has confirmed they got calls with questions about the stars. The naive, freaked out Angeleno makes for an amusing story. But much of it, like the image above, is a bit of an exaggeration.
Inaccurate photo description via BestOfCosmos
2) Is this a real underwater train in Denmark?
No, this isn’t an underwater train route in Denmark. According to a photo-sleuth on Reddit, the train stop that this purports to be actually looks like this. Perfectly pleasant indeed, but far less impressive than an underwater train.
Fake image via GooglePics
3) Is this George Orwell holding a puppy?
Yes, George Orwell did serve as a soldier during the Spanish Civil War. But no, the man holding the puppy above isn’t George Orwell.
Orwell wrote an entire book about his experiences there, titled Homage to Catalonia. And the photo above has spread far and wide online. But the man holding the puppy doesn’t even look like Orwell. However, as photo debunking site Hoax of Fame points out (and Getty Images confirms), that really is Ernest Hemingway in the background wearing glasses.
Below we have an actual photo of Orwell from the Spanish Civil War. That tall man with the mustache standing in the back? That’s him.
Inaccurate photo description via Historical Times
4) Do these photos show Leonardo DiCaprio 20 years apart?
According to HistoryInPics, the photo in the middle shows actor Leonardo DiCaprio at 19, while the one of the right shows him at 39. What did Leo actually look like at 19? The picture on the far left is from the premiere of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
Inaccurate photo descriptions via HistoryInPics
5) Is this an elephant rock carving?
No, that image on the left isn’t a real carving of an elephant. It’s computer-generated, much like the one we looked at a few months ago. The image on the right is a 1995 Associated Press photo of Packy the elephant at the Portland Zoo, which I’ve included just because I like elephants.
Fake image via GiveMeInternet
6) Does this image show all the satellites orbiting Earth?
It’s a stunning image of the world completely surrounded by satellites. It even looks like something straight from WALL-E — so much so that it doesn’t look real. And that’s because it isn’t.
Some people posting this viral image have been writing things like “the image speaks for itself.” Well, no. It doesn’t. Because the image gives people the impression that if you took a photo from space, this is what earth’s satellites would look like.
It’s an artist’s impression of the number of satellites, but it’s virtually useless because it’s not at all to scale. The European Space Agency includes a disclaimer that’s almost always cropped out when people pass this computer-generated image around online:
Note: The debris field shown in the image is an artist’s impression based on actual data. However the image does not show debris items in their actual size or density.
Inaccurate image description via ValaAfshar
7) Is this the first ambulance ever?
According to the National Archive, the photo above was taken around 1865. But no, it’s not the first ambulance ever, as some history-focused Twitter accounts would lead you to believe. The photo probably shows the very first ambulance that the US Navy Yard on Mare Island, CA had available for its use.
But in this bizarre game of telephone we call the internet, that context has been lost completely. You only need to read the title of the 1992 book From Farmcarts to Fords: A History of the Military Ambulance, 1790-1925 to quickly realise that ambulances certainly predate 1865.
Inaccurate photo description via @HistoryPix
8) Is this a real underwater hotel?
Could this be a real underwater hotel in Katafanga Island, Fiji? Sadly, no.
The images are from a 2008 proposal from Poseidon Undersea Resorts for an underwater hotel. The mock-ups do indeed look amazing. But they’re not real hotel rooms and probably never will be. At least not on that private island in Fiji. Even if the hotel finally does get built, a vacation there will set you back a pretty penny. Reservations for a week’s stay were reportedly going to cost $US30,000.
Fake photo via AMAZlNGPICTURES
9) Is this the tallest statue in the world?
This statue of Buddha in Ushiku Daibutsu, Japan is claimed by some people online to be the tallest statue in the world. Except that it’s not. It’s actually the third largest statute.
The one in Japan is 110m tall while the second tallest is in Burma standing at 116m. The tallest statue in the world is actually in China, towering over the people of Lushan, Henan at 128m.
Inaccurate photo description via Imgur
10) Are these the dumbest firefighters ever?
Notice anything wrong with the photo above? If you answered “possible train derailment,” you win!
When firefighters put down a hose that cars may need to drive over, they can use those little ramps so that it doesn’t restrict the flow of water. Of course, that wouldn’t work with a train and as the debunking site Hoax of Fame points out, the set-up was a joke.
The firefighters were just having a chucklegoof, according to their Facebook. Apparently those particular train tracks weren’t even in service, and (thankfully) those firefighters weren’t actually that dumb.
Joke photo via Facebook
11) Is this a full moon as seen in Brazil?
People on the internet love landscape photos with giant moons. They’re right up there with cat pictures and videos of hamsters eating tiny versions of Mexican food. Unfortunately, many of the giant moon photos you’ll find online are fakes. As the photo debunking Twitter account FakeAstroPix points out, the photo above can also be tossed on the fakes pile.
Fake image via FascinatingPics