French scientist Etienne Klein fooled thousands of people with a new, breathtaking photo of a distant star – that turned out to be a piece of chorizo.
Klein tweeted the image, claiming it was a new photo from the James Webb Space Telescope.
Since photos began to be released from the JWST, people have been on edge waiting to see what it’ll come up with next.
According to Klein, the photo he shared was of the “Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years from us.”
He said in the tweet, “She was taken by the JWST. This level of detail… A new world is revealed day after day.”
Photo de Proxima du Centaure, l’étoile la plus proche du Soleil, située à 4,2 année-lumière de nous.
Elle a été prise par le JWST.
Ce niveau de détails… Un nouveau monde se dévoile jour après jour. pic.twitter.com/88UBbHDQ7Z
— Etienne KLEIN (@EtienneKlein) July 31, 2022
He shared the photo on July 31 as a joke, but thousands of Twitter users took the image seriously and
shared it as if it were real.
Klein wanted to use the image of chorizo to demonstrate that just because something looks “eloquent” doesn’t mean it’s of importance or real. He also wanted to show that even trusted sources, like scientists, can be misleading.
Klein tried to hint at the truth below the original photo, writing, “According to contemporary cosmology, no object belonging to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere but on Earth.” Alas, his reference went over most people’s heads.
On August 3, he came out and apologized for misleading people. He tweeted (translated), “I come to present my apologies to those whom my hoax, which had nothing original about it, may have shocked. [I] simply wanted to urge caution with images that seem eloquent on their own.”
Speaking with Le Point, Klein said, “The good news is that some immediately understood the deception, but it also took two tweets to clarify. It also illustrates the fact that on this type of social network, fake news is always more successful than real news.”