It's surprisingly easy to see photos on social media and immediately accept them as truth. Even though we're all aware of photo-editing software (and that people will do anything for likes and shares), there are still times when we're all fooled.
Take this photo of a 16-foot shark caught on the Outer Banks.
At first glance, it looks mostly real. Sure, the shark is massive and the logistics of the photo don't really make sense (who caught it? why? how?), but it doesn't seem totally unrealistic.
However, it is fake. Very fake.
The photographer behind the image, Alex Lex, is known for Photoshopping basically anything.
Alligators next to the sound. Grizzly bears hunting on the beach. A UFO above the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. And it's all very, very fake.
But with more than 50,000 followers on his photography Facebook page, people are easily fooled (well, sometimes).
And so people share it (11,000 to be exact), and word spreads, and people believe it. While a 16-foot shark isn't exactly shocking for the Outer Banks (10-foot great whites have been spotted multiple times in the area), the unnecessary fear and stigma against sharks is already so widespread that fake images only exasperate the problem.
According to the Wildlife Museum, "The odds of getting attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067. In a lifetime, you are more likely to die from fireworks (1 in 340,733), lightning (1 in 79,746), drowning (1 in 1,134), a car accident (1 in 84), stroke (1 in 24) or heart disease (1 in 5)."
All this is to say, sharks are not as dangerous or scary as they are made out to be in media.
So Photoshopping them to appear larger and scarier and play on the already present, unfounded fear from people is just unnecessary. Sharks are already demonized enough.
So, while editing images might seem harmless, think twice before you share this kind of image — it could do more harm than you realize.