Jun 19, 2009

Hoax Debunked

An image of an enormous cat being held in the arms of a bearded man began circulating around the internet in early 2000. The picture attracted attention, because it didn't seem possible for a cat to be that large, but the chance that the cat was real couldn't be ruled out either.

At some point an unknown prankster added a caption to the image, claiming it showed "Snowball," a monster cat owned by Rodger Degagne of Ottawa, Canada.

The photo attracted so much attention that it was eventually featured on television shows such as NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and ABC's Good Morning America, but both Snowball's story and picture were fake.

In May 2001 Cordell Hauglie, a resident of Edmonds, Washington, came forward to admit that he created the fake image by using photo manipulation software and had then e-mailed the image to a few friends as a joke, never intending that it would pass beyond those friends.

A few months later the picture had spread worldwide. Hauglie only realized what had happened when the picture started appearing on TV shows, in newspapers, and in magazines. To his amazement, he had unintentionally become an internet celebrity simply by sharing a joke with a few friends.