Prankster admits faking Google Chrome OS screenshots

Handmade images of Google's newly announced open source OS duped scores of sites

File this under: Don't believe everything you see.

The anonymous blogger who earlier today posted "screenshots" of an early build of Google's Chrome OS has admitted he faked the images.

[ Also on InfoWorld: "Update: Google to launch open source Chrome OS this year" | InfoWorld's Robert X. Cringely wonders if Chrome OS will be a geeks-only thing, while Randall C. Kennedy thinks Google's OS has almost no chance of succeeding. ]

Before he confessed, however, numerous blogs and Web sites -- from Engadget to Neowin.net -- took the bait and accepted the screenshots as legitimate. Computerworld blogger Seth Weintraub was also duped.

The screenshots were accompanied by a backstory in which the blogger said he worked for a company that supplied parts for Acer, and had witnessed a demo of an early version of Chrome OS, the Linux-based operating system that Google announced yesterday.

"I was the last to leave the room and the Google Rep seemed to forget his privacy," the blogger wrote. "I happened to have my Mini-Cam with me and took these medium quality shots. I am sorry I couldn't get better. They were all taken in less than 10 seconds. Adrenaline was rushing like crazy."

Almost immediately, some readers called out the images as phony. "If these shots were real, and you really were putting your job on the line, you wouldn't say 'I was the last to leave the room,'" pointed out a commenter named, appropriately enough, "fake," in a message posted about three hours later. "It wouldn't be that hard to figure out who you are, would it? What's more, which Google rep demos a new OS on a kitchen bench?"

The prankster, who has not revealed his name, came clean about eight hours after his original post. "I am sorry if you beleived [sic] it. It was a really bad attempt. You all are smart people. I never planned on it getting this big. But it did," the blogger wrote. He included a video clip that illustrated how he created the bogus screenshots.

With interest in Chrome OS off the charts, it's not surprising that bloggers, reporters, and users were fooled into thinking that the images were legitimate. News of the operating system, which some have said poses a long-term threat to Microsoft but not necessarily to Apple, was featured prominently yesterday on sites that generally don't follow technology news closely.

This story, "Prankster admits faking Google Chrome OS screenshots" was originally published by Computerworld.

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