2012, January 13 (pre.): The Extra Thumb

It all started with a simple request. On January 13, 2012, a user in the Reddit website started a thread called Tell me your 'glitch in the matrix' stories, which was a request for, somewhat specifically, "weird occurrences, coincidences you haven't been able to easily explain." The thread got a LOT of responses... but one simple story in particular managed to live past the death of the thread, surviving as a repeating weird story in multiple websites.

        The story was submitted by Reddit user thfrbiddn1 ["The Forbidden One"] on the first day of the thread, and didn't take much to tell:

Thumbs Up!
Thumbs Up! [Picture sources here]

"Picture of my friends when they were younger, we've been trying to figure out who's hand is making the thumbs up behind the kid on the right."

User thfrbiddn1 stated that there was no fifth person in the shot. It's unclear if thfrbiddn1 was in the shot himself, taking the shot, or just heard about it from his friends after the fact... a check of their Reddit account history shows they were 17 years old in 2012 when they posted this story.

        The thread the story was in was quickly voted up by readers until it hit the front page of Reddit; it was then picked up by Robyn Wilder, a writer at the Slacktory website, who posted an article about the thread featuring what they felt were the ten best creepy stories from it... and thfrbidden1's story and picture was featured as number five on the list.

        The picture and it's basic story started to be featured in a variety of 'unexplained' and 'mysterious' photo web pages, soon most sharing the same basic story:

"One of the most recent photos that have baffled many internet users, this seemingly ordinary photo shows four youngsters posing for the shot. But if you look carefully, you will notice there is what appears to be an extra thumb next to the kid in black on your right. The boys as well the person who took the picture claimed they had no idea whose thumb that was."

The Obvious Problem...

        ... is that the photo could be easily made by simply having a fifth kid behind the other kids; therefore the entire claim for it being an 'unexplained' or 'mysterious' photo completely rests upon whether or not Reddit user thfrbiddn1 was telling the truth about the photo. And, of course, we don't know thfrbiddn1's actual name, or where they live... so they could have easily lied because no one is going to be able to test their claims.

        Now, don't get me wrong: they may be telling the truth. But we have no way of either knowing or double-checking. This is why I hate anonymous web posts; no matter what turns up, the stories start with a presumption of being suspicious. So why did this particular photo get the attention it has?

        The reason appears to be because thfrbiddn1's post was the only entry in the original thread that included a picture... so when articles about the thread were being written, thfrbiddn1's story was likely to be included so there would be some sort of photo to show with the articles. This had the effect of convincing people that the photo's background was somehow pre-confirmed as paranormal... which is when it became acceptable to add it to collections of paranormal and creepy photos as an assumed example of such.