In one of the best lists of 2015, Factually presents 76 images that went viral. Those images, however, are fake. From Charles Manson as a baby to penguins wearing hand-knitted sweaters. They are all fake. Or rather, the images exhibit one of two signs of fake: 1) they have been photoshopped or altered; 2) the caption or title is misleading.
However, does it really matter? To go viral means to be seen and shared by an exponentially increasing number of internet users. And, if possible, be translated into a meme. If millions of viewers gaze at the image, take it in, share it, and write how paradigm-shifting the image is in a Facebook status update, it may actually cease to represent or refer to anything considered objective truth.
The copy of the copy becomes the real.
Those millions of users are unlikely to discover that the image they shared of Justin Trudeau as a baby being held by Fidel Castro to be misleading. The baby is not Trudeau. Does it really matter?