hen our grandparents ask us what to do about the Nigerian prince who won’t stop bothering them for cash, most of us are smart enough to gently let them know there probably isn’t African royalty in trouble who specify sought them out because, well, we are very internet savvy. However, not every internet hoax is as easy to decipher.
We’ve all been victim to reposting an article only to have to sheepishly delete it later when we realized we clicked too soon and forgot to take a quick trip over to Snopes to check our work.
Here are some of the most viral internet stories that turned out to be big fat hoaxes. (If you accidentally shared any of them, don’t worry, we won’t tell)
Remember this shark on the highway after a hurricane?
This shark photo has been around. It seems to circulate after every major hurricane: you’ve probably seen it pop up after Harvey or Irma or Sandy. But it’s definitely not really paddling it’s way through a Houston interstate, or any interstate for that matter. The shark photo is manipulated, a combination of a real photo of a flooded highway and a photo of a Great White shark from Africa Geographic.
Actually, the real photo it came from is maybe even scarier.
In the photo the shark is superimposed from, a much bigger shark follows a man in a kayak. And this one is the real thing!
The lottery winner who just can’t wait to give away all his cash: not real.
You’ve probably seen this one on Twitter or Facebook, a lottery winner named Shane Missler (just one example of several) hits it big and has decided to share a percentage of their winnings with whoever reposts their post or tags someone else in it. You’ve probably seen people sharing a post like this with a message like “hey! It’s worth a try!” Well, it’s not. Shane really did win the lottery, but he’s not sharing it with strangers. Lottery winners generally aren’t going to give away their winnings to random strangers on the internet, sadly, so you’ll just have to win the lottery on your own.
A tourist did not really pose on a deck of the World Trade Center just before the plane hit.
In a viral photo that has been circulating online for the last few years, a tourist stands atop the World Trade Center. In the background, you can see a plane flying below him, about to hit the tower. The photo is dated 9/11/2001. Posts often stated that his camera was found in the rubble of the towers and when the film was developed, someone discovered this photo of his last moments.
There are a lot of reasons why this photo is clearly manipulated.
First of all, September 11, 2001, was a warm day. It was still summer in New York so there’s no reason someone would have been wearing winter clothes. But more importantly, the photo itself is impossible. The plane shown in the photo is an American Airlines Boeing 737 which isn’t the same plane that actually hit either of the Twin Towers. Also, there was no observation deck open at the time of the terrorist attack, so there’s no way a tourist could have been taking photos on one.