30+ Viral Pictures That You Thought Were Real

February 9th, 2015   |   Updated on March 24th, 2021

Imagine fake news without fake images. Fake images are the heart and soul of fake news. News appears authentic, if it has images which could be easily believed, posted, retweeted, liked and circulated.

Ever since the advent of Photoshop, the number of fake viral pictures has increased substantially. And, we all have always been busy circulating those fake images.

Below, a recap of viral images, all in one place for your pleasure perusing.

1. Real Pilot Selfie


No, this isn’t the world’s greatest selfie. Though it might be if it were real.


2. 9-11 Tourist

9-11 Tourist

Perhaps one of the most famous hoax photos ever taken! Initially, it was  believed that this snap was captured from a camera at Ground Zero but only later did people realize it was a fake.


3. Bike On Vashon Island That Was Abandoned For 100 Years


The kids’ bicycle embedded into a tree is a bit of a tourist attraction on Vashon Island, Washington, just outside of Seattle. But it’s not a century old, as so many social media accounts are claiming.


4. Photo From A Soviet Mental Institution In 1952

Soviet mental institution in 1952

This bizarre photo  isn’t some supernatural weirdness from a Russian mental institution in 1952. It’s from Pina Bausch’s performance art dance show, Blaubart.


5. Air France Flight 447

Air France Flight 447
Allegedly, a photo taken just before Air France flight 447 crashed to the Earth, but,actually, it was just a still from the TV series “Lost”.


6. Baby Polar Bear

Baby Polar Bear
Seemingly look like  a real baby polar bear, but this widely circulated photograph is actually just a stuffed animal you can buy on Etsy.


7. Collapse Of Shark Tank In Kuwait

Collapse of Shark Tank in Kuwait
No, there were no sharks swimming circles around the bottom of an escalator . This, actually,  is a photoshopped image of Toronto’s Union Station.


8. Earth, Mercury, And Venus From Mars

Earth, Mercury, and Venus from Mars
This photo was generated from a piece of planetarium software.


9. Fennec Hare

Fennec Hare
It’s actually a kitten that was posted as an April Fool’s joke.


10. Fetus Foot

Fetus Foot
That would have to be Hercules in the womb for his foot to show through the uterus, muscles, and fat like that.


11. Hercules, The World’s Largest Dog

Hercules, The World's Largest Dog
Although the world’s biggest, tallest, and heaviest dogs are certainly worth a google search, this guy is not on the list.


12. Hurricane Isaac

Hurricane Isaac

Retweeted thousands of times, actually, it is a Photoshopped picture of a supercell thunderstorm that seems to pop up with a new foreground every time there is a hurricane threat anywhere.


13. Indian Ocean Tsunami

Indian Ocean Tsunami
One of many photos that circulated after the tsunami that struck Indian Ocean shorelines in 2004 this was actually a picture of Antofagasta, Chile with waves photoshopped in.


14. Moonmelon

Claiming to be an expensive melon found in Japan, unfortunately there are is no such things a blue melon.


15. Mystical Tree

Mystical Tree
Claimed to be some sort of mystical tree in Africa it’s actually a fake tree found in Disney World, Florida.


16. Ella Fitzgerald Denied A Gig At The Mocambo Night Club In 1954 Because She Was Black

Ella Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald was allegedly denied a gig at the Mocambo night club in 1954 because of her race.  But this was not the true story. Monroe was a huge fan of Fitzgerald and was able to change the manager’s mind, who didn’t found Fitzgerald “glamorous enough.”


17. Oil Rig, Water Spout, And Lightning

Oil Rig, Water Spout, and Lightning
While the oil rig was added in later, the water spout and lightning part is actually real. It was taken by Fred Smith in Florida on June 15, 1991.


18. Purple Trees Of  Fairy Pools, Scotland

Purple Trees of Fairy Pools, Scotland
These trees are neither purple nor Scottish. This is actually just a photoshopped picture of Shotover River,  New Zealand.


19. Rainbow Owl

Rainbow Owl
Claimed to be some sort of rare wonder inhabiting the forests of China and the United States, this is actually an extremely photoshopped picture of a regular barred owl.


20. Statue Of Liberty In Hurricane Sandy

Statue of Liberty in Hurricane Sandy

This is yet another supercell thunderstorm that was superimposed over the Statue of Liberty.


21. The Derbyshire Fairy

The Derbyshire Fairy

Intended to be an April Fool’s Day joke Dan Baines of Derbyshire, England made this fiary prop to sell on eBay.


22. Carving Of Buddha At The Ngyen Khang Taksang Monastery

The photoshopped image comes from an online art collective called Reality Cues and their Graffiti Lab Tumblr project.


23. We Built It

We built it

Supposedly taken during the republican convention in 2012, the debt clock was actually on the other side of the arena.


24. Marlboro  To Make Marijuana Cigarettes

After both Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana , news spread that the makers of Marlboro wanted to become the nation’s first major weed brand. No. No they don’t. The source for this particular fake image is a website called Abril Uno.


25. JFK And Marilyn Monroe Cuddling

JFK and Marilyn Monroe cuddling

Seemingly an unguarded moment of affection between President John F. Kennedy and actress Marilyn Monroe, was actually  the work of artist Alison Jackson, who’s known for her photos using lookalikes of famous people.


26. People In Smog-Choked Beijing Watching  Sunrises


Yes, the smog is horrible in China. However, in reality, the photo shows a Chinese tourism ad for Shandong province playing on a giant video screen in Tiananmen Square.


27. Syrian Child Sleeping Next To The Graves Of His Dead Parents

a young Syrian child sleeping next to the graves of his dead parents

It’s a heart-wrenching photo, with the caption “In Syria, sleeping between his parents.” But it’s actually just part of an art project from Saudi Arabia. The photographer is a 25-year-old, named Abdul Aziz al-Otaibi.


28. “Sad Putin” After Russia Lost To Finland In Hockey


This photo getting passed around showing a dejected Vladimir Putin after the Russian Olympic hockey team was defeated by Finland 3-1.But the photo isn’t actually from that game. It’s a Getty Images photo that was taken when Russia played Slovakia.


29. Photo Show The Recent Snow In Florida


The photo on the left dates back to at least 2010.


30. Shark Vs Helicopter

Shark vs Helicopter
It may be obvious to most of you, but you live in a world where some people believed this picture was real.


31. Lightning Striking A Tree


This is a long-exposure light manipulation photo with a lightning bolt photoshopped in.

Sources: list25; gizmodo

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