Debunking Pinterest hoaxes and Photoshopped pins

With his pinboard, Fake Plants and Other Hoaxes, user Steve Asbell is trying to become the of Pinterest.

Mar 3, 2020, 4:45 am*

Internet Culture

Lauren Rae Orsini 

Lauren Rae Orsini

While you’ll never see a rainbow-hued rose in nature, dozens are pinned on Pinterest every day.

Steve Asbell hopes his Pinterest board, Fake Plants and Other Hoaxes, breaks the news to users gently before they attempt to order a dozen for their wedding. Call him the of Pinterest: Asbell debunks ‘shopped images to help people learn the truth about pins.

“Somebody could pin a neat, albeit far-fetched concept, and somebody else will repin it and add their own description of ‘Cool! I want this!’” he told the Daily Dot.

“Next thing you know, it’s a game of ‘telephone’ and an innocently conceived photo-manipulation of a rainbow-colored rose becomes a statement of fact. That’s where I hope my board comes in.”

When it comes to knowledge of real and fake plants, Asbell can’t be beat. A horticulture enthusiast with a penchant for tropical fruit-bearing plants, the Floridian blogs, writes, and illustrates gardening articles when he’s not tending his own plants.

“I became interested [in hoax-spotting] when I saw the Photoshopped moonmelon and thought, ‘There are way cooler fruits out there than that, even if it were real.’” he said.

“I can spot Photoshop adjustments a mile away, so I decided to set aside the fakes both out of respect for the skills of the fakers and to inform trigger happy pinners who have no idea.”

Asbell’s pins are not just related to plants and hoaxes, however. Some are conceptual devices that pinners have mistaken as products for sale. Others, like this Photoshop of a pregnant belly with a baby foot sticking out, have been wrongly assumed to be reality.

“Not all of the pins are hoaxes; it’s just that all too often they’re misunderstood,” he said.

In just three days, Asbell has amassed 300 followers and dozens of pinner submissions. He’s now turned it into a collaborative board so any pinner can request to join and submit fakes.

“While I might recognize a photomontage or notice a plant that’s been tinkered with, everyone has knowledge that can be brought to the table,” he said. “This ‘hoax’ board doesn’t have to be a buzzkill; it can be a lot of fun.”

Photo via Pinterest

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*First Published: Jul 6, 2012, 9:00 am