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This Photo Does Not Show A Guy Who Died While Masturbating During The Volcanic Eruption At Pompeii

"One last one for Harambe!"

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This viral tweet from @PersianRose1 claims to show a man who died while masturbating during the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79.


OK settle down, everyone. As noted by the HoaxEye Twitter account, the photo does not show a man masturbating. It is, however, from Pompeii.

A color version of the image was shared in June on the verified Instagram account for the Pompeii Archeological Area. It posted the photo with the description, "Plaster cast of a victim of the eruption."

Instagram: @pompeii_parco_archeologico

The man's pose has nothing to do with the activity he was engaged in before dying, according to a volcanologist who studies the Pompeii victims.

"The individual in the photo is an adult man, killed by the hot pyroclastic surge (hot gas and ash cloud which killed most of the population living around Mount Vesuvius), with both arms and legs flexed due to the heat," Pier Paolo Petrone told the Daily Dot.

Petrone told the Daily Dot that “most of the human victims found in Pompeii often show ‘strange’ position of arms and legs, due to the contraction of limbs as a consequence of the heat effect on their bodies after death occurred.”

But even without a masturbatory caption, people couldn't help but imagine something else going on in the photo. "I'm sure he had a good eruption before the end," said one commenter on Instagram.


A few weeks later, a black and white version of the image was tweeted by @PersianRose1 with the false caption. It instantly began making the rounds. The viral photo Twitter account @HistoryFlick copied the tweet:

The image also made its way to Reddit.

And once again, Mount Wanking Jokes erupted. "Buddy, there's a reason his friends called him Mount Vesuvius."

Completing the viral circle, one person copied the comment from @andredoesthings, posted it and the image to Instagram — and then tagged themselves as actually being at Pompeii.

Instagram: @edalantuzon

Craig Silverman is a media editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.

Contact Craig Silverman at

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