14 Incredible But Fake Viral Images — And The Twitter Account Debunking The Picspammers

Everybody loves mind-blowing images on Twitter — but not many people check if they're real. Meet the Twitter account that's taking on that task.

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Incredibly, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping viral picture feeds are all over Twitter. They post images that are beautiful, fascinating, moving...and often complete nonsense. But there's help at hand — the @PicPedant Twitter account is trying to kick back against the factory line approach these accounts take to spreading images — one of many attempts to make fact-checking go as viral as the fact-free.

1. Here are some of @PicPedant's best debunkings:

.@DiscoveryImages AHAHAHAHAHAHA [repeat] That is Kilurchin Castle, Scotland, photoshopped onto Preikestolen, Norway: https://t.co/tJn5A6SviM

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@DiscoveryImages AHAHAHAHAHAHA [repeat] That is Kilurchin Castle, Scotland, photoshopped onto Preikestolen, Norway: https://t.co/tJn5A6SviM

04:35 PM - 29 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

2.

Long exposure photo of a Lightning Bolt hitting a Tree!

Fascinating Pictures@Fascinatingpics

Long exposure photo of a Lightning Bolt hitting a Tree!

10:41 PM - 6 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

.@Fascinatingpics Nope, light painting art by @DariusTwin: http://t.co/NXqRjb53Vr

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@Fascinatingpics Nope, light painting art by @DariusTwin: http://t.co/NXqRjb53Vr

10:45 PM - 6 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

@PicPedant is run by one man, Paulo Ordoveza. "I used to run an urban legend debunking site called pula.ph in the Philippines, waaaay back in the late '90s and early aughts," he told BuzzFeed by email. But, he says, "it petered out after a while because I insisted on making everything longform and I didn't have the time or energy to devote pages of text to scads of repetitive email forwards."

He doesn't just deal with fakes on the account — he also corrects misattributed images, or real images without a credit for the photographer.

3.

.@HistoryInPics Via the National Archief, The Hague, Netherlands: http://t.co/Fd1BRMKG7X — a fairly obvious 1930s paste-and-airbrush job.

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@HistoryInPics Via the National Archief, The Hague, Netherlands: http://t.co/Fd1BRMKG7X — a fairly obvious 1930s paste-and-airbrush job.

12:27 PM - 31 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

4.

How the sky looks during a space shuttle launch at night. Just Magnificent.

SPACE PORN@GoogleSpacePorn

How the sky looks during a space shuttle launch at night. Just Magnificent.

11:46 PM - 21 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

.@GoogleSpacePorn Not a Space Shuttle. Atlas V rocket launching RBSP satellites 2 years after last shuttle mission: http://t.co/t1NE1L2sB7

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@GoogleSpacePorn Not a Space Shuttle. Atlas V rocket launching RBSP satellites 2 years after last shuttle mission: http://t.co/t1NE1L2sB7

12:15 PM - 30 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Which accounts are the worst offenders for tweeting fake images? "Anything with 'google', 'earth', or 'porn' in the title seems to be pretty bad about churning out misleading captions and nonattribution," he says. "I'm not even going to bother with the accounts that just regurgitate Reddit/9GAG memes..."

His favourite topic for debunking is anything to do with space: "My heart's always been with spaceflight and astronomy."

5.

.@EARTHPlCS [repeat] Nope, 3D computer rendering by Christoph Hormann: http://t.co/ufCmr4Vj1B | http://t.co/sPme8kqMfH

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@EARTHPlCS [repeat] Nope, 3D computer rendering by Christoph Hormann: http://t.co/ufCmr4Vj1B | http://t.co/sPme8kqMfH

01:23 AM - 31 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

6.

.@GoogleSpacePorn That's a thermal blanket that drifted off the Space Shuttle Endeavour during an EVA on STS-88. http://t.co/B6bANvgfH1

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@GoogleSpacePorn That's a thermal blanket that drifted off the Space Shuttle Endeavour during an EVA on STS-88. http://t.co/B6bANvgfH1

12:13 PM - 30 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Why does he think people are so keen to share images, regardless of their accuracy? "Myth and fantasy are powerful forces, and even more powerful is that little endorphin rush one can get from finding a diamond in the rough, a precious little secret that pops out at you from your Twitter Home stream, minimally and pithily captioned in a way that captures your mind and imagination, just so.

"Never mind, of course, that about a million other followers have seen it too; this is yours, this pleasurable feeling of resonance with the past, or with a stranger, or with the natural world, or with the universe, or with a cute animal. When someone comes barging in on that feeling with 'TOTALLY SHOPPED AND STOLEN FROM 500PX LOL' I can understand someone feeling defensive over it.

"And meanwhile, the picspammers have learned how to seize on that feeling, and how to leverage it toward affiliate link profit."

7.

Waterfall Castle, The Enchanted Wood

.@ThatsEarth @fakeastropix "Hidden Temple," digital render by Ruben Darío Karamañites Arango http://t.co/HzXS3rUEHb | http://t.co/2lj9Ta98BP

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@ThatsEarth @fakeastropix "Hidden Temple," digital render by Ruben Darío Karamañites Arango http://t.co/HzXS3rUEHb | http://t.co/2lj9Ta98BP

08:47 PM - 30 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

8.

.@HistoryInPix [repeat] Already established as NOT Audrey Hepburn or even a lookalike. Duped by another fake. https://t.co/Qu1C1Jrc6l

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@HistoryInPix [repeat] Already established as NOT Audrey Hepburn or even a lookalike. Duped by another fake. https://t.co/Qu1C1Jrc6l

05:46 PM - 29 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

9.

.@TheWorldStories 3D rendering by Sebastian Kerner, Germany: http://t.co/GwQU9UJ3Iu

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@TheWorldStories 3D rendering by Sebastian Kerner, Germany: http://t.co/GwQU9UJ3Iu

03:34 PM - 30 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

10.

Please rt this until this asshole gets caught!

.@Fascinatingpics Hoax: bottle was capped, he was wrestling it away from the puppy. You can quit the moral panic now. http://t.co/qur8OmwpHT

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@Fascinatingpics Hoax: bottle was capped, he was wrestling it away from the puppy. You can quit the moral panic now. http://t.co/qur8OmwpHT

03:29 PM - 30 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

11.

Photo from the 1940s of what many scientists believe to be an extinct Megalodon swimming next to a German U-boat.

Terrifying Posts@TerrifyingPosts

Photo from the 1940s of what many scientists believe to be an extinct Megalodon swimming next to a German U-boat.

04:15 PM - 30 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

.@TerrifyingPosts Nope, fake. Sensationalized photomanipulation created for Discovery Channel 'Megalodon' trailer: http://t.co/DbbSHWuKIx

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@TerrifyingPosts Nope, fake. Sensationalized photomanipulation created for Discovery Channel 'Megalodon' trailer: http://t.co/DbbSHWuKIx

04:21 PM - 30 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

12.

.@TheWorldStories Original without moon pasted in: http://t.co/xzt18BNMo6 (Also it's "Sierra Nevada" in California; not "Sierra, Nevada")

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@TheWorldStories Original without moon pasted in: http://t.co/xzt18BNMo6 (Also it's "Sierra Nevada" in California; not "Sierra, Nevada")

09:49 PM - 29 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

.@TheWorldStories But then, you were probably just auto-scraping the title from Reddit or Imgur or Pixdaus or Pinterest.

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@TheWorldStories But then, you were probably just auto-scraping the title from Reddit or Imgur or Pixdaus or Pinterest.

09:50 PM - 29 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

.@TheWorldStories Oh heh it's not even from the Sierra Nevada, original pic by Evren Güntürkün was in Europe: http://t.co/jin1lgNKgz

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@TheWorldStories Oh heh it's not even from the Sierra Nevada, original pic by Evren Güntürkün was in Europe: http://t.co/jin1lgNKgz

09:56 PM - 29 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

.@TheWorldStories So yeah, wrong about moon, wrong about location, wrong about wrong location, and no link crediting original artist.

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@TheWorldStories So yeah, wrong about moon, wrong about location, wrong about wrong location, and no link crediting original artist.

09:57 PM - 29 Jan 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

13.

.@Fascinatingpics .@soundhunter Photomanipulation by artist Peter Holme III: http://t.co/Lz7nA4o7Dv | http://t.co/zUCfFiGpqw

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@Fascinatingpics .@soundhunter Photomanipulation by artist Peter Holme III: http://t.co/Lz7nA4o7Dv | http://t.co/zUCfFiGpqw

02:35 AM - 7 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

.@TheWorldStories Cropped from "Scorched Earth" by Daniel Conway (aka arcipello) on DeviantArt: http://t.co/hXDy8r6aV5

PicPedant@PicPedant

.@TheWorldStories Cropped from "Scorched Earth" by Daniel Conway (aka arcipello) on DeviantArt: http://t.co/hXDy8r6aV5

01:35 AM - 7 Feb 14ReplyRetweetFavorite