The photograph featured above surfaced shortly after a grand jury in Missouri refused to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown. In a sea of memes, photoshops, and Twitter commentary, the picture went viral alongside its companion photograph (courtesy of Politifact):

politifact-photos-Ferguson_sign_original

Two different photographs, one very clearly photoshopped to provide some social commentary on a quickly spiraling situation. Predictably, the photograph enraged some, delighted others, but no one with two brain cells to rub together believed that the “rob a store” version of the photograph was real.

Politifact, however, dove in headfirst to provide us with an analysis no one asked for (emphasis mine):

The version we received is cropped to focus on the African-American man holding the sign, with a partial view of a woman standing to his left. Other versions, such as one analyzed by Snopes.com, include a fuller view of the woman, holding a sign that says, “Shame on Ferguson Police,” as well as another man, an African-American, holding a sign that says, “We the People.”

The starkly divergent messages of the three signs provide a clue that something is amiss. And indeed, something is amiss.

In the original photograph — published on the Riverfront Times’ news blog on Oct. 1 — the sign read, “No mother should have to fear for her son’s life every time he leaves home” (emphasis added). It also includes the hashtags #blacklivesmatter and #stayhuman.

But words on the sign were doctored by a user of the social media site Imgur. Initially, the user posted this statement with the retouched photograph: “The black community has every reason to be angry with the police, and the brutality they inflict. But making a martyr out of the kid that robbed a store and attacked a police officer is just mind boggling. Micheal (sic) Brown is one of the worst things to happen to race relations in a long time.”

At some point after the doctored version of the image began circulating, the user acknowledged that he had changed the picture: “Edit: Yes, I shopped this. It captured mine, and many others, frustration with this whole situation.”

A photograph that went viral purports to show a protester in Ferguson, holding a sign that said, “No mother should have to fear for her son’s life every time he robs a store.” However, the photo was manipulated by a social media user, who later acknowledged the alteration. The change in wording turns the sign’s message completely on its head, so we rate the claim Pants On Fire.

Shocking.

The internet responded in kind.

h/t Ed Morrissey