Fake Internet Photos You Thought Were Real

There's lots of fake news and fake information out there. Here are a few examples of some popular internet hoaxes, fully debunked for your viewing pleasure.


On the internet, lies and rumors can spread at the click of a “Share” button. Logically, anyone who uses the internet should be aware that there is a lot of fake information out there and yet, many of us can’t restrain ourselves from forwarding, sharing, and re-posting regardless of authenticity. Let's explore a few examples of some popular internet hoaxes.

On the Edge

Fake Internet Photos cliff house On the Edge

This unbelievable cliff house went viral after it appeared on Facebook with the caption “Would you dare live in this house?” Anyone with a sense of adventure quickly shared the photo with squeamish friends. There are many questions: How would the toilets flush? Where is the nearest market?

Anyone with a grasp of physics or real estate can draw the conclusion that this is not a real home. It is, in fact, an advertisement for a concrete adhesive. Henkel Construction released a series of ads that somewhat embellished their products’ strength with architecturally impossible - yet visually fascinating - feats.

There is some truth in the advertising though - the house is similar in concept to another cliffhanger concept home, proposed by architectural design company Modscape. Only this one requires no glue.

Cliff house Modscape

The ads are very clever, but their transition into Internet Hoax proves how quickly something as simple as an advertisement can become a viral game of double dare!

Get Some Air

In 2015, Instagram user Pilot Canso scared the frequent-flier miles out of the internet by publishing photos of himself using a selfie stick while apparently flying a plane.

Ignoring the fact that the artist very bluntly noted in the caption of the photo that it was a Photoshop manipulation, the internet became enraged, insisting that the pilot be fired for endangering the lives of his passengers.

View post on Instagram

It was even published on sites such as The Mirror, The Daily Mail, and Arab News, among others. Didn’t these people stop for one second to wonder how this man’s hair remained so perfect, despite sticking his head into the open air at hundreds of miles an hour?

Ancient Giants

Fake Internet Photos Ancient giants

This fake photo dates back to 2004, when dumb, funny email chains were the talk of the office. This one hooked its readers with the alleged discovery of the Biblical giants known as Nephilim. As written in Numbers 13:33 in the Bible:

“There we saw the giants -the descendants of Anak came from the giants; and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

The truth is that these images really came from a variety of regular archeological digs from around the world. One of the images was created in 90 minutes of dedicated Photoshop time by internet illustrator IronKite, who used real pictures of a mastodon dig in Hyde Park, New York as the basis of the viral shots.

National Geographic even had to issue a statement that no, these were not images from a top-secret outing. They’re just crafty Photoshops for gullible people.

Bird is the Word

Fake Internet Photos hoaxes Haiku bird

Despite the total lack of wings and Pokémon-like appearance, this image made the rounds a couple of years back, convincing far too many people that the mythological Haiku bird had been caught on camera.

According to ancient legend, the Haiku bird was the sacred pet of the Hindu goddess Parvathi, but in spite of what the web might have you believe, this ain’t it. In reality, it’s a creation by then DeviantArt user CMWyvern, dubbed “The Cloud Antelope.” Credit where credit is due: this is a stunning piece, as are CMWyvern’s other works, and it’s easy to see why nature-happy internet users would want this to be a real creature.

While scientists are constantly finding new species in the animal kingdom, unfortunately, neither the Haiku bird nor the Cloud Antelope has made their way into scientific literature.

Wok The Wok

What started as an elaborate and expensive prank between two YouTube contributors quickly turned into a viral tsunami. After the incredible image below started making the rounds on social media, people were amazed by the picture-perfection and skill on show from this young master of the wok.

Fake Internet Photos hoaxes the Fried Rice Wave

Soon, though, people figured out that they had fallen victim to a prank. But this wasn’t just a cheap photoshop! The action-shot wok was actually an impressive piece of art available throughout Tokyo. But in fairness, the $4000 sculpture of fried rice is incredibly realistic.

The original prank involved one of the personalities of YouTube channel Mizutamari Bond calling his co-star into the kitchen. Fooled by cooking sound effects, the second YouTuber comes to investigate, only to see a massive tidal wave of fried rice overtake his kitchen.

Watch on YouTube

The shocked YouTuber’s gasps of surprise would be the first of millions all over the world. After taking a global trip mis-labeled as “proof” of an incredible unknown chef in Japan, the Fried Rice Wave settled into retirement as a meme. A pretty tasty one, at that.

Bieber Burrito Bungle

With millions of people interacting with each other around the clock, it’s no surprise that the internet has become a place where debates get hotter than a Carolina Reaper pepper. When images depicting Justin Bieber eating a sideway burrito appeared on Reddit, everyone dropped their guac to discuss both Bieber and burritos, and some of the conversations got spicy.

Fake Internet Photos hoaxes Bieber Burrito Bungle

The truth behind this image is actually very amusing: YouTube thrill-seekers Yes Theory recruited Canadian actor Brad Sousa and very carefully set up a series of pranks with the Bieber look-alike just for the purpose of getting the internet worked up.

They wanted to spark fury of a similar kind that is leveled at people who put milk in the bowl before cereal. And it was a complete success: even after it was revealed that this is not “JBeebs,” internet users continued the debate. There’s no news on how the real Justin Bieber prefers his burritos.


Fake Internet Photos hoaxes Angolan Witch Spider

This photo is enough to make anyone want to stay inside. It appears to be a spider the size of a window, taunting all who want to enter or exit the house. The caption usually attached calls it the “Angolan Witch Spider,” and the photo often indicates it was taken in Texas, Florida, or even Australia.

While all of these locations have exceptionally terrifying insect species, the good news is that the Angolan Witch Spider is not real. This is merely a quick Photoshop of a regular wolf spider, created by artist Paul Santa Maria in 2011 after twenty minutes of brief manipulation. Intended as a joke about Florida fauna, it took off across the internet, weaving a web of deceit around Facebook users everywhere.

Quit Lion

Fake Internet Photos hoaxes MGM Lion’s famous roar

Allegedly, this was how the MGM Lion’s famous roar was captured. Except no, no it was not. Despite blatant lies on social media, which asserted that this image was an example of the cruel methods MGM used to get its iconic logo, the photo is heavily photoshopped. This is in fact a manipulation of a fascinating picture showing a lion getting an MRI scan.

View post on Twitter

Deceitful internet users were successful in their aims to rile up animal lovers, converting their concerns into clicks and internet points. The creators photoshopped in a reversed image of the MGM logo, making it look like the drugged and restrained animal was being poked through the hole in the logo.

This one is easy to debunk with a little history lesson: Modern MRI imaging equipment was developed in 1977, and the first MGM lion to roar on film- a majestic beast by the name of Jackie- was recorded in 1928. MGM has always used professionally-trained lions who could roar on command, without drugs, restraints, or machinery. Animal welfare fans may now sigh with relief.

Leo the MGM lion 1928
Pacific & Atlantic Photos, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Lunch with a View

This historical hoax is one of the most recognizable photos of its day and a proclamation of the American spirit of industry. Eleven men dangle during their lunch break precariously over New York City, still in its infancy.

Fake Internet Photos hoaxes Lunch with a View

However, the photo was all a stunt. It turns out, three photographers were commissioned for publicity photos of Rockefeller Center, and while the beam truly was 850 feet in the air, there was a floor poised beneath it to avoid tragedy, and it wasn’t the candid image you might have thought it was. Still not a shoot for the faint of heart!

Running from Nothing

Anyone with an interest in nature documentaries has wondered how the film crews manage to get such amazing, intimate portraits of rare and dangerous animals, and the photo below seems to demonstrate the inherent peril of working with wild animals for a living.

Fake Internet Photos hoaxes Running from bear

There aren’t too many people who wouldn't turn and run screaming if a giant grizzly were headed in their direction. Bears are huge, with giant teeth and claws that can make an easy meal out of a few photographers. Thankfully, this photo, which gained popularity on Pinterest and Twitter, is completely fake.

The four men featured in the portrait were simply messing around while location scouting for a film in Salida, Colorado. According to filmmaker Tim Sparks, the red-bearded bear-fleer in the photo, they simply saw an opportunity for a humorous photoshop and ran with it.


Traffic is a nightmare: this is a fact, supported by anyone who has a daily commute. The following photo appears to show a commuter’s personal hell. Claiming to be a snap of the world’s longest ever jam in China, this pic has been re-used in countless articles, blogs, and YouTube videos.

Fake Internet Photos hoaxes Jam-Packed

While the image seems believable at first glance, the truth is that this is actually a doctored image of the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. The real highway is considerably narrower, and despite L.A. traffic’s reputation, doesn’t even compare to the photoshop.


It’s easy to understand how people were fooled, seeing as the longest traffic jam ever recorded took place in China and lasted an astounding two weeks! Not everyone took annoyance from the crazy congestion though. Intrepid locals took the opportunity to sell water, instant noodles, and cigarettes to stranded drivers at highly inflated prices.

Russian Sleep Experiment

The internet is a great source of horror. From YouTube Top 10 Caught-on-Camera videos, to creepy tales, the internet has left plenty of folks sleeping with the lights on. Perhaps the greatest sources of horror content online are websites hosting user-submitted content, such as Creepypasta or the SCP Foundation.

These stories can be terrifying, and to the uninitiated, often seem real. One such tale, titled ‘the Russian Sleep Experiment’ tells of a top-secret, super-creepy Russian experiment, and its terrifying outcome. It’s since been uploaded in various forms, accompanied by the shudder-inducing image below.

Fake Internet Photos hoaxes Russian Sleep Experiment

Thankfully, it’s all just part of a Creepypasta. Best served al dente, “creepypasta” is online horror fiction that makes its way around the web. The Russian Sleep Experiment is some of the best creepypasta on the web, but this creepy image is just a prop.

Specifically, a Halloween prop by the name of “Spazm.” It originally cost less than $150 and was produced by Morbid Enterprises. With a little creative lighting and some filters, it turned into the perfect face for the Russian Sleep Experiment.

Fake Internet Photos hoaxes Russian Sleep Experiment

So, that proves it: the internet is full of lies. I hope you were not fooled by any of these fake internet photos. Thanks for reading!

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