One of the most viral tweets of the week was a photo of a woman peering down through a ceiling tile. The story that went along with it was an instant classic: a teacher spying on her class as they cheated on an exam. Ooh, busted!
But if this story, which topped a million combined likes and retweets, sounds too perfect to be true, that’s because it is. @Josephxmorales, whose real name is Joseph Longoria, told BuzzFeed he didn’t take the photo. It was just something he had laying around, and he made up a story designed to go viral.
“I just had it along with the rest of my pictures,” he told BuzzFeed. “I was deleting them because ya know, storage almost full, iPhone probs. So I decided to make it into a meme.”
In a world where there’s way more content than there are hours in the day to consume it, it’s hard to just “decide” to make something into a meme, but Joseph seems to have pulled it off. The explanation he made up for the photo had all the requisite ingredients: teen appeal, a surprise, and, seemingly, “the receipts” in the form of a photo. It’s just that the receipts turned out to be fake.
BuzzFeed says the photo was also posted months ago by a Turkish Twitter user, but that he wasn’t the original photographer either. Apparently, it came from Instagram. Reverse image search technology only works so well, especially now that Longoria’s viral tweet has made this photo a meme. If we want real answers, we may just have to wait for the original photographer to come forward.