KHOU Falls for the Old "Huge Rattlesnake" Hoax

Whoa, an 11-foot rattlesnake caught in Texas! ...or not.
Whoa, an 11-foot rattlesnake caught in Texas! ...or not.

Maybe the good reporters over at KHOU were simply too dazzled by the Fourth of July fireworks to take a good hard look at the photo. Maybe they were having an off day. It's unclear what happened over at KHOU on the Fourth of July, but the end result was a photo of an "11-foot-long rattlesnake" was posted on the KHOU website and went from there to social media. 

From there things took the usual turn they tend to take when a media site screws up and the online public is on hand to helpfully point it out, but also to make jokes, because that's how the Internet works. No one at the CBS affiliate noticed that the unverified huge snake photo was taken using that thing called forced perspective (the same little trick that allows people to take photos where their hands and arms and, you know, other things, look much larger than said appendages actually are), but the interwebs got right on it. People posted photos to the KHOU Facebook post on the rattlesnake — since deleted — of an "8 foot long sharpie" and a "man's hand...bigger than his entire body" and a few other clever digs, as Poynter noted. 

On Thursday KHOU finally announced it was taking the photo down because it had been brought to the station's attention that "the 11-ft-long rattlesnake photo published on July 4 was not authentic." No kidding. The jokes were still flying in reply to that tweet from KHOU, but the photo is down. 

The Poynter website posted a story about this unfortunate hoax, and our absolute favorite part of the whole thing is the way Poynter maintains an impressive amount of decorum about this whole thing. The media-focused site simply noted, "The CBS-affiliate tweeted earlier today that it was unpublishing the photo, which was deemed inauthentic." 

Again, we must point out that this thing looks like, well, a dude in camo holding up a dead snake so that the regular-size snake looks news-worthily enormous. Lesson of this whole rattlesnake hoax: Always verify and if you don't verify, be sure to have a thick skin about how that gets treated in the online world. 

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