Occupy Wall Street Crowd 2011 Shankbone

Lies, Damn Lies and Photoshop

I’ve posted a follow-up post to this article to clarify a few details and put to rest a few rumours.

A fellow skeptic (President of the Granite State Skeptics Travis Roy) recently posted a request on the Skeptoid mailing list regarding an image that has been making the rounds on Facebook. The image is an aerial shot of a supposedly huge turnout for the Occupy Wall St protest against corruption and greed. What appears to be thousands of protesters clog the streets of New York near the City Hall, with a caption stating:

Occupy Wall Street Turnout: My TV says nothing. The only thing I hear is its [sic] a small 100 person turn out. Turn off your TV. Ask your friends. Dont [sic] trust the media they lie!

After a request from Wettstein (and a warning from my hosting provider) I have removed his plagiarised propaganda image from my site. However the original can be found on Google Image Search.

My skeptical colleague saw this image and immediately smelled something fishy. Travis noticed that the image was an aerial photo of New York City Hall, whereas the protests were happening several blocks away at Liberty Square. He sent the image to the mailing list for other opinions. To my eyes the mass of protesters looked out of place, the crowd looked too uniform and dense to be real. I took the image into Photoshop to see if I could pick up any pattern to the image. My original thought was that they had used the clone tool to make a smaller group of people look much larger. Not being able to find anything obvious, I started to wonder where the background plate may have come from. Immediately Google Maps came to mind. I looked up the location featured in the image, and then I saw it:

Look familiar? How about now:

According to Google Earth, this particular aerial photograph of City Hall was taken on the 3rd of June, 2011, one month before the Occupy Wall Street initiative even began.

I have no strong opinions regarding what these people are protesting about. I’m sure they believe their cause is just and I respect their right to make a stand. I do however find it supremely ironic that a group who is supposedly protesting about corruption and lies would produce such a blatant piece of propaganda. Especially one so readily falsifiable. I respect that people have their own opinions and beliefs, however I have no respect for those who blatantly lie to defend their beliefs.

“Don’t trust the media. They Lie!”


Update: I have had a request to produce an overlaid version of the image to better demonstrate the similarities. Never wanting to disappoint my fan, here’s an animated gif.

Update#2: The eagle eyed among you will have noticed I have disabled the comments. Everything that needed to be said has been said, and the comments were getting nasty on both side of the fence.





92 responses to “Lies, Damn Lies and Photoshop”

  1. Jason Loxton Avatar
    Jason Loxton

    Hmmm… Did protestors actually make or promote this image? (If not, the criticism is unjust.) The tag on the doctored photo is a URL for a graphic designer in Vancouver. I smell a cynical PR move. Create viral image, have it debunked (or not). Either way, every forward is advertising. http://wettstein.ca/ http://www.jasonwettstein.com/

    1. Travis Roy Avatar
      Travis Roy

      @Jason – Regardless of the intent, when I saw it this morning it had been shared over 50 times on facebook by, mostly, Occupy Wall Street supporters who took the image as real. I’ve posted it on twitter with the hashtag #occupywallst asking what people thought of it with zero response from anybody on it.

      So supporters of the cause are promoting it, with nobody saying it doesn’t represent the protest in any way (at least not yet)

      1. Matt Avatar

        I’ve been making the point all day, and I support the occupy wall street movement. I’ve been infuriated at the promotion of this falsity because I support the protest.

      2. ravi Avatar

        Supporters of the event are not promoters/participants of the event. But more importantly, supporters are unaware of the doctoring (presumed innocent, and all that sort of modern niceties). It is a huge leap of logic to contend that these supporters “blatantly lie” because you find the image readily falsifiable. Ockham’s Razor suggests they saw an image, found it appealing and supportive, and rebroadcast it. The guilt for propaganda lies with the creator of the image, as Jason Loxton points out.

  2. Tim Parkinson Avatar

    A valid point. I don’t know if Wettstein created the image or what his connection to the protests is. However somebody created the image with the intent to mislead people as to the extent of the protests. The “Occupy Wall Street Turnout” caption is pretty unambiguous. Whether it was done as a PR stunt to provoke a reaction I don’t know, but its certainly a possibility.

  3. Jason Loxton Avatar
    Jason Loxton

    I emailed Jason Wettstien to ask what was up. My guess it that this image was produced for no political reason at all. Just fun or advertising. But it has been picked up by us skeptics quickly, and the criticism clearly moves beyond a debunking of the image, e.g., you state “I do however find it supremely ironic that a group who is supposedly protesting about corruption and lies would produce such a blatant piece of propaganda.”

    This is a great piece of viral photo debunking (well done!), but as skeptics we need to stick to the facts: I have not seen any evidence that this was produced by protesters (or counter protestors for that matter).

    1. Travis Roy Avatar
      Travis Roy

      I also emailed Jason but have not heard back. But given the message on the photo, it’s kind of clear where the person stands on the protest. Jason Wettstein, near as I can tell, lives on the West coast of Canada so wouldn’t have any direct knowledge of what’s going on. I’ve talked to friends that live in NYC and they have had no disruption of travel in that area, no roads are blocked.

    2. Tim Parkinson Avatar

      You’re right in that we do not yet know who produced the image or for what purpose. It’s possible that Jason Wettstein (or some other individual) produced it and distributed it just for laughs, or some other unknown purpose. However the fact that its being propagated by protesters and supporters without any questioning of its validity is why Travis and I decided to determine its accuracy. It certainly seems like its intent is to exaggerate the extent of the protests, and people are reposting it without once stopping to question the reality of it.

    3. Greg G Avatar

      I agree, and to the poster Tim Parkinson, why does there need to be a purpose? An agenda? An alterior motive?

      It’s a Photoshop. That’s it.

      Someone agreed with the reason for the protest (it’s actually a GREAT reason) and wanted there to be more people.

      That’s all.

      1. believe this Avatar
        believe this

        “It’s Photoshop. That’s it.” ?!!

        If it’s just PS, why add in the text, and imperative text at that?

        It’s hardly just PS. There are plenty of ways to promote, even with PS, without becoming PROPAGANDA.

  4. Jason Loxton Avatar
    Jason Loxton

    I don’t think it *is* clear where this person stands. That message is designed to ensure forwarding. Since he has his website on it, that’s in his best interest even if he is totally apolitical. On the other hand, he could be a Neocon trying to undermine the anti-Wallstreet protests with an obvious hoax. Or he could be one unscrupulous ideologue naively trying to boost the protest. I don’t think we have any way or knowing, and, as skeptics, any right guessing. But even in the worst case, unless it can be linked to organizers, this in no way maligns a movement, just one guy.

    1. Travis Roy Avatar
      Travis Roy

      I don’t think we made any guesses. There was nothing that said this was anything official from the protest organizers, of course the Occupy Wall Street website says “Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions.” So they don’t have any real way to “officially” send out information or denounce it.

      They have had the opportunity to denounce it as individual members of this protest, yet nobody has done so. It also continues to be propagated out as fact through social networking. We were just debunking the image and showing it as a fake.

      1. g Avatar

        ‘they’ had the opportunity to debunk it, but didn’t?
        did you send it directly to ‘them’ so you can be sure they know about it?
        anyone following #occupywallst probably sees a hell of a lot of new tweets anytime they check, and might not catch every single tweet that goes out

        i got to this post via FB from someone who shares #ows stuff, so obviously some of #they are pointing out – but apparently ‘nobody’ has?

        apparently the condemnations here are a bit overdone…

    2. Greg G Avatar

      why the hell does everything have to be a conspiracy and “them”?

      It’s just a Canadian dude who photoshopped the rally to look bigger than it actually was. Nothing deeper than that.

  5. Jason Loxton Avatar
    Jason Loxton

    Just to be clear, once again: Well done on the actual debunking! Great job! (My concern was just on the overreach on interpretation.)

  6. Dan Buskirk Avatar
    Dan Buskirk

    I’ve been deluged with posts about the protest and I never saw this. Who knows who made this and why but it seems pretty irrelevant to what is going on out there.

  7. Travis Roy Avatar
    Travis Roy

    Reply from the image creator is in:

    “yes its photoshopped I was hyping the event lol you do know the news is lying to us all day long. So they have CNN and Fox the 99% have me lol


    Jason Wettstein”

    1. Travis Roy Avatar
      Travis Roy

      So I replied. “So they lie, it’s okay for you to lie?”

      His reply to that:

      ” Yes!!

      I would do anything to help fight the elites and banksters. I feel overstating the turnout when it is being ignored by the mainstream media might inspire people to head on down.

      My take is the world is on its deathbed I would lie cheat, steal and murder to save my daughter a place on this planet these banksters are destroying for imaginary profits.

      You can make this an issue but when the food runs out I am eating you.


      Jason Wettstein”

      1. Jason Loxton Avatar
        Jason Loxton

        That is an extremely unfortunate response. Deeply disappointing. The irony is he is setting up the movement he is trying to help.

      2. Bryce Avatar

        As a supporter of this protest, all I can say is that Jason is being a douche, and should knock it off. He owes an apology to everyone who was taken in. I expect I would have been taken in as well, if someone hadn’t linked to this directly.

        I hope this debunking gets more publicity (despite the insinuation that we who were duped are co-conspirators rather than victims), and that more accurate estimates are forthcoming. Above all, it’s a good reminder to everyone not to turn their brains off just because something supports their agenda.

      3. Ron Hardin Avatar
        Ron Hardin

        The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments. Friedrich Nietzsche

      4. Judson Avatar

        Please. You are against these groups? You have pictures of yourself with some pretty big name companies. Large vitamin companies, filming agencies in canada, you have pictures of yourself with recording artists and what not.

        Here is a question: How much were you paid to be pretend to be an “OccupyWallST Supporter”

        People actually involved with anonymous would have known better than to leave a watermark.

        In fact the only to explain something like that is if you were being paid to discredit the movement.

  8. Tim Parkinson Avatar

    Well there you have it. It doesn’t change the fact that people are reposting the image seemingly believing it to be real. The motivations of the originator of the image are irrelevant when they are unknown to those down the chain. Wettstein is also committing a classic “Two Wrongs” fallacy; The media and government lies to us, therefore its okay for us to lie as well. It’s hard to hold the moral high ground while doing the same things as your opponent.

    1. Travis Roy Avatar
      Travis Roy

      Couldn’t agree more.

    2. Judson Avatar

      He is supposed to be against big corporations, but according to his website has many clients that would qualify this way. He has pictures of himself shaking hands with various CEO’s… clearly profiting off of them.

  9. Jason Wettstein Avatar

    yes its photoshopped I was hyping the event lol you do know the news is lying to us all day long. So they have CNN and Fox the 99% have me lol

    My intention was all good, to inspire people that is all maybe a little lie but we all live with thousands of huge media lies with no good intentions. I know many more people would be there if the could.

    I would personally would do anything to help fight the elites and banksters. I feel overstating the turnout when it is being ignored by the mainstream media might inspire people to head on down. I would be there if I could as I am sure millions would but these wall street cunts have us slaving just to eat and live with out the freedom to be there.

    My take is the world is on its deathbed and I would lie cheat, steal, murder and or give my life to save my daughter a place and a healthy future on this planet these banksters are destroying for imaginary profits and what are we going to do?

    People can make this an issue but when the food runs out I am eating them.

    1. SocraticGadfly Avatar

      In other words, you’ve admitted you’re untrustworthy not just now, but in general. Why would I want to march beside you, in either actuality or in spirit?

    2. Mike Avatar

      I generally try to attack a person’s argument and not the person but nothing you said serves as an argument so there’s nothing really to debate. With that said – PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE WHAT’s WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY. Your victim mentality is a cancer on the United States. This is America, if you aren’t moderately successful then you are either too dumb to be or not willing to put in the work and personal restraint that this acquires. You’d rather sit on your ass and complain about the “elites” or “fat cat bankers” because you heard somebody else say it. Tell me how exactly have so-called “elites” or “fat cats” restrained you from accomplishing what you want? You are probably the kind of person that irresponsibiy signs an apartment lease that you couldn’t afford, defaults two months later and calls the landlord an evil capitalist because because you got evicted.

      1. Alan Avatar

        So, you attempt to show your moral superiority by going on a childish tirade where you pull out every anti-protester stereotype you can think of? The moment you reduce “success” in the US to the old and tired libertarian screed that hard work always succeeds and laziness is always at work when you do not you fatally sabotage your argument and make yourself just look like a mindless ideologue. It’s just a variation on the old Puritan religious work ethic that equates success to godliness — while intrinsically maintaining that by definition anyone rich and successful could have only become so through manifest superiority. You are confusing the ends with the cause in a way that should make any skeptic cringe.

        Sure, hard work is an important part of success, but so are things like luck, having the right friends and connections, coming from a rich/successful background, benefiting from lingering racism and/or sexism in our culture, being willing to get ahead by screwing over others, and so forth. By repeating the mindless ideological screed that, in effect, success = godliness you only damage your own claims and make those of your opponents look a lot more convincing.

        1. Mike Avatar

          Where did I mention Godliness, I think you made that up? Excuses, excuses, excuses. When you are prepared for success luck will find you. Of course there’s bad luck, of course some people have a leg up from day one. That still doesn’t mean that you can’t accomplish what you want. You find out how to overcome it. You can outwork bad luck and/or situation. Some days I work so many hours I have no time to eat. Sometimes I go for a whole week only sleeping 2-3 hours per night. I’ve sat at my desk for 20 hours a day for a month straight trying to learn a new software language to get a job. And no, you don’t have to step on someone’s toes or screw other somebody else to get there.

          I’m not saying everyone can be a millionaire or even have a six figure salary but anyone that choose’s so can live a decent life. If you believe what you just said then you are a LOSER. Political idealogy my ass. I’m not saying its morally superior to be successful. But if you don’t want to do what it takes (I doubt you realize what it takes) then don’t sit on your ass and want what everyone else has.

          I could care less if I damage my own claims. I could care less what you think about what I write. The bottom line is I want NOTHING from you and you apparently want something from me.

    3. Judson Avatar

      don’t feed this guy. my best guess is that he was paid to do this.

      its precisely the kind of thing he advertises for on his website.


    4. mikeybot Avatar

      “Hell is paved with good intentions.”

  10. Jason Wettstein Avatar

    “Lying to get your point across makes you no better than them and
    causes people to mistrust the protest’s motives and goals.

    I know of a few people that now no longer support the Occupy Wall
    Street protest due the the deception you have shown.

    Travis Roy”

    Travis if you “I know of a few people that now no longer support the Occupy Wall
    Street protest due the the deception you have shown.” then you know people that never supported this cause. I am sure rapist and child murderers support saving the planet and they will not waiver my support.

    Looking for all the things we don’t have in common rather than all the things we do is how you let them win its the old divide and conquer.

    I sugest you are an jerk off who would argue with your self and you are a vampire sucking the life out of anything you can. Maybe a over paid disruptive?

    You will use what ever you can to drag down the hope of these people I am suggesting people ignore losers like you and your weak minded flip flop supporters.

    here is the truth the photo and Travis Roy are both massive fakes but the photo was here to inspire you and Travis Roy is here for his ego!


    1. g Avatar

      Jason – i prefer to get my inspiration elsewhere, better sources you might say, thank you very much. but to each, their own… i’m not changing my mind about the ruling financial elite just cause some guy out in vancouver photoshopped an image, but i’m not applauding either

    2. Dennis Johnson Avatar
      Dennis Johnson

      Jason, you’re not only a hypocrite, but a stupid one. What you have done undermines the cause you claim to support. The image you created states “Don’t trust the media they lie”. Well, you know how else lies? You, punk.

  11. Jason Loxton Avatar
    Jason Loxton


    You do realize that in creating a false image that will be promoted within the community you claim to support, you are ultimately undermining the credibility of that movement, right? I can actually think of few things you could do to better sabotage and distract from their “we the people stand en masse” message. I suspect that this whole thing is a prank on your part, and that your comment here is further trolling, but if not, a giant, disappointed, and sarcastic “well done” to you. : (

  12. Jeff Wagg Avatar
    Jeff Wagg

    “If they’re lying to us, we can lie to us better!!!”

    Lying is a very bad way to support a cause, and the excuses given for doing so by Jason Wettstein are pathetic.

    Thanks to Travis and Tim for pointing out this ruse, and let the protests stand or fall on their own merits without consideration regarding this unfortunate piece of propaganda.

  13. Jason Wettstein Avatar


    You guys are the definition of trolls maybe you can read my post again apparently you did not understand what I meant.

    With all the things to do in this world, with all the injustice, what is really sad is this is what you find your useless self-righteous sheepish selves doing.

    You are trolls with vampire powers and I have a real life so as much fun as this is for you I will not attend your troll sucking feast any further.

    1. Tom Betz Avatar
      Tom Betz

      Actually, Jason, trolls introduce noise into conversations that change the subject of the conversation to them. That’s the definition of a troll.

      By disseminating this phony photoshop job, you have introduced noise into the conversation that is Occupy Wall Street, and changed the subject of the conversation to yourself.

      You are, by definition, a troll.

      The world, and especially the people occupying Wall Strett, deserve an apology.

  14. Jason Wettstein Avatar

    OH i could not help but notice the Royal Bank Banners on your page now I am sure they are rotating and GEO targeted and different for everyone but I think this is very funny in a “sad” way

    1. Tim Parkinson Avatar

      That is rather amusing.

  15. al Avatar

    There will always be people like Jason who feel justified in stretching the truth in favor of a good cause. It behooves all of us to be skeptical of what we hear–if the truth needs stretching, perhaps we’re on the wrong side. Regardless of which side you’re talking about.

    1. gs Avatar

      stretching the truth? there is no truth, its a blatant lie and propaganda. This is something that’s done in Soviet Russia, or Nazi Germany, or Hussein’s Iraq.. come on now

  16. Kitty Avatar

    A few small things, since we’re all being investigative and all. Jason Wettstein lives in Canada, he is neither at the Occupy Wall Street protests nor associated with them in any way. He’s one frustrated guy far away whose ‘shoop got picked up.

    Presenting this as if it in any way represents the views of the people who are associated with the protest is a bit intellectually dishonest. “But they haven’t soundly trounced it!” No, they haven’t yet. But not denying something is not the same as supporting it. Or you haven’t seen any denials because you’re getting your info from a removed source. Every day someone is posting some nonsense in the name of atheism or skepticism and it gets ignored. Mostly because stupid pranks/opinions aren’t worth the time. You’re asking the event coordinators to prove a negative “When did you stop promoting this photo which you didn’t create or toss out into the ‘nets.”

  17. SocraticGadfly Avatar

    @Jason … ends do NOT justify the means. Period. End of story. That said, with Adbusters involved (more ppl there are “look at me” types disgruntled over not getting top ad agency jobs than real left liberals, IMO – an opinion I’ve had more than a decade) this does NOT surprise me.

  18. Richard Murray Avatar
    Richard Murray


    How is that funny? Royal Bank wasn’t a bailed out bank.

  19. Jason Wettstein Avatar

    fuck all of you your a bunch of NAZI Trolls making rules for how I should conduct my self and how others should FUCK YOU I would rather keep the fuck heads I know then replace them with you losers. I am just as much a protester of the people down on the streets I have done maybe even more with email, blogging and posts then all of you opinionated wankers. All you cunts have done is prove your ignorance this protest is not a US protest or US movement its global. Kitty what are you 12 its not up to them or you to censor my right to expression Its a fake so fucking what I could point out 100 other fakes but I would hate to have people leave the protest LOL GET A FUCKING GRIP!

    Honestly you are a bunch of clowns no wonder they are laughing with morons like you dividing the few supporters there are and scaring off others on the fence.

    Fuck adbusters LOSERS and WANNA BE’S and fuck any other people and groups that think they can own me. I am protesting cunts and Banksters hording the wealth of the world and the elite ruling class. I don’t belong to any group I am the other 99% the 99% that does not have you rule book! You can fuck off if you don’t like my fake photo OK! I think that the fake yielded great results and inspired people and for those that have had a change of heart because of these or maybe dont want to be involved because of a few fake photos FUCK THEM.

    I posted all you bitching and moaning only had 2 comments tell me what useless twats you were and the other that you were all art school grads with no work.

    I think you are all idiots and yes you anger me I fucking would rather have the flu then meet any of you chumps.

    Now I really hope you will just stop antagonizing me I had no intentions on ruining your private protest so FUCK OFF PLEASE.

    1. Tim Parkinson Avatar

      I’m pretty sure if I was an art school graduate I would have put a little more time into the graphic than I did, but thank you for your concern regarding my employment status.

      There is no need to get nasty. That rant has earned yourself a ban from the comments. I will however leave your final remarks online so that people can see what kind of person you are. Good luck with overthrowing global financial tyranny.

    2. Travis Roy Avatar
      Travis Roy

      “Now I really hope you will just stop antagonizing me I had no intentions on ruining your private protest so FUCK OFF PLEASE.”

      Nobody is forcing you to come here. No reason to be upset that some people figured out the fraud you were trying to perpetuate on the internet and now even your supporters online that were once sharing this image are reporting that it’s a fake and don’t support it.

      If you did some research and created an image that had the protestors in the correct location, and didn’t exaggerate the numbers so much, people wouldn’t have noticed.

    3. Dan Buzzard Avatar

      @Jason Wettstein

      Thanks for showing your true colours. You have shown yourself to be a childish and dishonest individual. You can lie and cheat all you want, but people will call you on it.

    4. Nowhere Man Avatar
      Nowhere Man

      Wait! Jason! Please don’t go! The eloquence with which you make your case has completely won me over. Tell me, where can I sign up?

  20. Travis Roy Avatar
    Travis Roy

    I wanted to give an update. It seems that whenever somebody is posting the photo, people are jumping on it to expose it as a fake and let people know. I see this as a positive sign for the truth and for the credibility of this protest regardless of your feelings about them.

    1. Tim Parkinson Avatar

      Great to hear. I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to spreading the word about this thing. The sooner the facts are revealed about this kind of thing the sooner everyone can get back to providing credible coverage of this event.

  21. John Atkeison Avatar
    John Atkeison

    Thanks for this work. To me, it smells like the work of the old “Rat Fuckers” in the Nixon White House, including “Jason’s” response. I could also be quite genuine, of course.

    Last year when I lived in New Orleans an acquaintance gage me a bumper sticker that read something like, “Think Green! Vote all incumbents out!” The group identified on the peel-off backing turned out to be a Tea Party group.

    IMHO, all this argues for transparency and a common standard of behavior which would include honesty. IMHO, you can try to trick the enemy, but never your friends or comrades.

    If someone or some organization plays games with people, they risk becoming indistinguishable from our enemy.

  22. robin Avatar

    I reposted this after seeing it again this morning. I did think the cabs in the center of the street was weird, but I did repost it… because I live in Madison WI and was part of the protests in Feb and March and it was constantly underreported and the crowd estimates were greatly diminished.. by the 10s of thousands, so that is what made me bite on this. But after seeing this, and a friend pointing it out, I quickly posted your image and the comments! I want the TRUTH. I am for the TRUTH. The person who did this is naive to his leaving an opening for these vampires to suck the real truth out and use it as a wedge to bring doubt to people hoping so hard to fight against this terrible take over of our government by the ‘bankers’ or the Koch brothers and their ilk. It is true, it is happening. ALEC is writing legislation. Corporations have been deemed ‘Citizens’ by the highest court in the land. This is real. So I am ALWAYS unafraid to say I’ve been duped by someone, but the cause is just and I will fight on. Thanks for shedding light on this.

  23. Jennifer Avatar

    Thanks for posting this and revealing the truth. I’ve posted it on my own FB wall, and wherever else I’ve seen the doctored image. While I also support the efforts of these protests, I feel frustrated that so many are so eager to believe whatever they see. It’s like those on the left have fallen for the same sheep mentality that they accuse their right-wing counterparts of possessing. And then to say that it’s acceptable because “the other side” is less than honest… well even my Kindergartener son knows that’s not right! How do we point the finger at Wall Street and their lies if we can’t even be honest within our own ranks??

    Again, thanks for taking the time to do this. I’m glad for it.

  24. Pete Avatar

    This seems to be an effort to discredit the protesters and their supporters, or the effort of a single self promoting weasel. It sends the message that both sides think misrepresenting the truth is ok. The targets of the message are the large section of the public that have not made up their minds. We need to keep the message clean and unambiguous – Wall Street is lying to us.

  25. Kat Avatar

    There are a lot of images circulating on social networking sites that are extremely misleading. With all of the technology that is at our fingertips these days, your average consumer must constantly engage their powers of critical thinking. It is pretty scary, given that most folks believe anything they see on tv, or read in print/online.

    Good detective work. Thank you for publishing your findings.

  26. Terrence McNally Avatar
    Terrence McNally

    Looks like Jason’s truthiness is suspect on most things he states. The image was created by Scott Lickstein and folks can purchase a signed print for fifty bucks from his site:


    Who knows what Wettstein’s motivations are. Maybe he’s attempting to make #OWS supporters look like jerks.

  27. Karen Avatar

    Thanks to the debunkers and the discussants. Very good reminders of the olden days in Berkeley of non-violent protesters, Cointelpro protesters, and angry-at-their-parents trasher hoodlums.

    The take-away message is to take ourselves seriously enough to emphasize non-violence training and self discipline (and now in the digital age, photoshop scepticism). And know if it is powerful it will attract a variety of motivations. Don’t get distracted–this is getting powerful.

  28. Mitch Fuqua Avatar
    Mitch Fuqua

    @ Jason…you have done a grave misjustice to the cause. How is anybody supposed to take us seriously when you post deceptive images ? This is not child’s play and people are being beaten and maced, yet you are at home safe playing with Photoshop. I use Photoshop as well and am damn good at it, but I would never stoop to deception. Shame on you from someone who would be there protesting if I did not live in the deep South.

  29. smartone Avatar

    Where have you people been for the last few years? See “Plunder the Crime of Our Time” released a couple years ago. Or read Mother Jones Jan 2010 issue “Too Big To Jail”and you will see where a lot of these Wall streeters ended up, in Obama’s administration. Obama has hand in big money’s pocket just like all the rest. Obama has fooled a lot of sheeple but not me. I saw thru his bullshit a long time ago. Why doesn’t Michale Moore start handing out some of his millions and millions he has made to the “cause” ?
    Wake up and smell the bullshit you’re being fed by the left center and right.

    1. Tim Parkinson Avatar

      That’s great, what does it have to do with a faked protest photo ?

  30. […] Note: The photo that originally appeared with this post has been removed. […]

  31. Garry Avatar

    I thought the taxis in the middle of the mob were a bit off. Is it any coincidence that this comes from a Canadian location? No means to sue them in US court. Next, the black hooded “anarchists” will start smashing windows on Wall Street to justify bringing in the Natl. Guard, but if any of them have been in Iraq, I think they might side with the protesters.

  32. Jordan Avatar

    I think the real question for this community to get to the bottom of at this point is who is Jason Wettstein and did he even make this image at all? It looks like he stole the image from Scott Lickstein per @Terrence McNally’s comment, and then added his own clownish text commentary on top of it. The difference in writing styles b/w Scott and Jason are like night and day, and the all-caps, mangled grammar of the photo that went viral are clearly Jason’s voice and not Scott’s. Scott has a nice explanation of his work on his site that is not intended to deceive but rather to consciously provoke thought, as any good artist should. The difference in voice and professionalism (for lack of a better word) implies that the original thought provoking work is indeed Scott’s, and that Jason came along after and saw an opportunity to steal the work and create a troll-style image to go viral and provoke people in an unsophisticated, deceitful way.

    The remaining question would be who is Jason Wettstein, is he real or a right-winger trying to discredit the movement, and what does Scott think about this? (and why hasn’t anybody – Scott of otherwise – tried to put out a version of the image w/ a different text that is true to the original intent?

    1. Danielle Avatar

      I’m pretty sure he’s a troll. Some bored teenager who thinks he’s funny. Someone of that nature.

      Kind of like this, only without the subtitles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqx2Bt5bnKE

  33. smartone Avatar

    @Tim its all about the protest that should have been protested years ago.

  34. Derek Coghill Avatar
    Derek Coghill


    Just a wee correction to a post way back; the Royal Bank (assuming that it’s the Royal Bank of Scotland which is being referred to) was bailed out in a big way by the U.K. government. Its boss got the heave-ho and then there was a further furore over the size of his pension, which he declined to waive.

    I’m in Scotland; apart from the internet, I’ve seen nothing in the print media here about this, although there was a piece on BBC television news about the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday. Why the silence…?


  35. Richard Murray Avatar
    Richard Murray

    Derek: I assume he’s referring to the Royal Bank of Canada, as Jason’s from Canada.

  36. Topher Avatar


    Terrance Mcnally is right. Photo was made by artist Scott Lickstein as a representation of what New York would look like if all the online supporters of OWS could be there.

    1. Tim Parkinson Avatar

      You’re right, and after doing a little bit more research I’ll be putting together a follow up post explaining the original Scott Lickstein image.

  37. Greg G Avatar

    I’m a graphic designer, and while it’s irresponsible to misrepresent these things, at the same time… who cares.

    EVERYTHING is Photoshopped (mostly) these days, and it’s an easy Google search (like the one that led me here) to verify it.

    It’s our responsibility to research these things before we promote them.

    Now post this on your Facebook and send it to 15 friends if you support research towards curing feline AIDS.

    1. Tim Parkinson Avatar

      And that’s precisely what I did. I researched it and posted my findings online so that others who are looking for answers know what’s going on. What bothered me was seeing so many people who were not researching it before promoting it, which is what prompted the post in the first place.

  38. John Guare Avatar
    John Guare

    Let’s not overdo the equivalence-drawing between the “left” and “right” in this situation. Yes, people with leftist viewpoints make misleading or factually incorrect statements sometimes, or copy things they’ve read on the internet without checking their accuracy, or maybe even write stupid comments on the internet, using the word “fuck” a lot! However, until they start doing things like foreclosing on people’s homes, trading in hyper-violent weaponry, tanking the economy and then getting paid hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money to repair the damage they’ve caused, but not repairing it, and THEN saying that since the government no longer has any money (since they now have it all) everybody’s Social Security and Medicare should be cut, they really aren’t “just as bad” as the people they’re protesting.

    I don’t deny that the photoshopped picture is a problem. I just think a little perspective is called for.

  39. sentient still Avatar
    sentient still

    The aerial photo with the streets packed does seem to be manipulated. Because I know this movement to be transparent, honest, and responsible, I can only imagine this was adjusted and spread by someone trying to discredit the movement. I also know that this movement needs no help from dishonesty or manipulation, and actively shuns such things.
    Adjusting a photo in any way you please is not illegal or immoral. This is simply art and free will. Only when one makes claims that a manipulated photo is real is when lines are crossed. Many things are possible in this case, but I don’t see it coming from a trusted source, and I trust that this movement will always attempt to bring out the truth and have nothing to hide.

  40. Truthseeker1 Avatar

    Hey Tim Parkinson!! If you have no strong feelings about it, then you shouldn’t be reporting on it. Most people that posted this pic did so with the same intent; to spread the truth. They didn’t know it was altered. Shame on this journalist for pissing on an entire movement for one person’s misguided efforts. As far as this picture goes, the effort of the author to get people to wake up, albeit misguided, is still far more noble than your effort to debunk it. Furthermore, your comments about the irony of people seeking the truth while spreading an altered pic is a perfect example of either your irresponsibility as a journalist, or your inadequate perception as a human being. But then again, you are the media, so I guess it’s par for the course. The sad part is that we are fighting for your rights too. You can thank us later when you wake up……Along with the rest of the 1%ers!

    1. Tim Parkinson Avatar

      Firstly I am no journalist. Just a blogger with an eye for bullshit. As a skeptic I feel it’s my duty to expose fakes and frauds wherever possible, regardless of the topic at hand. I am not knowledgeable enough about the US economic system to make a reasonable judgement about the situation, but I can spot a photoshopped image when I see one. As stated in previous comments, my intent in posting this was to stop people disseminating this image as fact by exposing it for what it is. I realise that people spreading this image around didn’t know that it was faked, which was the point of the post in the first place. They thought they were spreading the truth, I wanted to show that in fact they were spreading a lie, whether knowingly or not. I in no way intended to defame the creator or discredit the movement, I just wanted people to know the truth about this particular image. Nothing more.

  41. Maine PR Avatar

    Nice work debunking.

    This points to an interesting cognitive distortion known as the availability heuristic. That is people tend remember [pass along] those things which are dramatic because they stick in memory. How many other hoax memes get started this way? Plenty.

    It could be that someone just did this photoshop hack to see how far it would spread. Protest supporters picked it up and believed it because of another cognitive distortion called the confirmation bias.

  42. venicementor Avatar

    @Jason Wettstein – you are obviously a very immature individual and your attempt at “crying wolf” and then justifying is going to come back to bite you one day. Keep it honest and quite frankly this can be construed as yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre. Instigation by falsification is certainly not humane and by the way……Truthseeker1 your comment;

    “Most people that posted this pic did so with the same intent; to spread the truth. They didn’t know it was altered. Shame on this journalist for pissing on an entire movement for one person’s misguided efforts. As far as this picture goes, the effort of the author to get people to wake up, albeit misguided, is still far more noble than your effort to debunk it. Furthermore, your comments about the irony of people seeking the truth while spreading an altered pic is a perfect example of either your irresponsibility as a journalist, or your inadequate perception as a human being. But then again, you are the media, so I guess it’s par for the course. The sad part is that we are fighting for your rights too. You can thank us later when you wake up……Along with the rest of the 1%ers!”

    You are delusional and should be living in Egypt – does denial ring a bell?

  43. Tanner Campbell Avatar

    I appreciate this being posted. I support these protests however I don’t want to spread around false information and lose credibility for the cause. Thanks for this.

  44. jqp Avatar

    There was no need to circle anything in the photographs as proof of manipulation. Just look at the two. It’s a Google photo captured at a very specific time of day on a very specific date (shadow orientation). That tells us the other is a fake without further analysis.

  45. Kent Shaull Avatar
    Kent Shaull

    In my mind, it doesn’t matter who or what, it’s going down as a win because it’s working! It got all your tongues wagging, didn’t it!

  46. […] Det sägs att bilden ovan är falsk. Det sägs att den inte stämmer överens med sanningen, det sägs att den är ett plagiat, ett […]

  47. neil goodwin Avatar
    neil goodwin

    Hey, guess what? Some grave-yard shifter made a bad call on a social network site. Get over it! It’s hardly Watergate. And for any of you out there who feel in some way disappointed that squillions of people hadn’t beseiged Wall Street, well then, perhaps get off your fat lazy harris next time and go boost the numbers. And yes. You are ‘no journalist’. Your’re just bored.

  48. H.D. Avatar

    The point stands, that if the media were doing their job, this conversation would be unnecessary.

  49. Paul Davis Avatar
    Paul Davis

    Yea.. to hell with those protestors! They should all become REAL men and women and join the military to kill whoever the bankers and politicians tell them to kill. ANYONE who gets a thrill from a blog like this brings new meaning to the word ‘pu$$y’.

  50. Erik Avatar

    Additional details. I did some checking and found the event that was captured in the photo. It’s a firefighter funds-cut protest.

    Here’s the link:

  51. […] and on my Facebook page is precisely because the kind of blatant misinformation going on through social media by Occupy Wall Street supporters is exactly what progressives would call blatant propaganda if it were coming from the […]

  52. […] above animated GIF was produced by a guy named Tim Parkinson in response to the circulating on Facebook of the more crowd-heavy version, in later incarnation […]