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That Viral Photo of ‘Hollywood Mountain’ California Is Completely Fake

Have you seen a stunning photo of Hollywood Mountain, California recently? One image is making the rounds on social media platforms like Facebook and BlueSky depicting what appears to be a lush green mountain with the L.A. skyline in the background. But it’s completely fake. There’s not even a real place called Hollywood Mountain.

The image appears to have originally been posted to Facebook by someone named Mimi Ehis Ojo, who has plenty of other AI-generated images on their page. And while anyone who lives in Southern California can probably tell immediately that it’s fake, it looks like some people who’ve never visited the U.S. are getting tricked into thinking it’s real.

“How many mountains does America have so all the physical land features are complete in America then we are cheated by God,” one Facebook user from Nigeria commented.

Writer Cooper Lund pointed out on BlueSky that this kind of confusion could be a recipe for disaster if foreign tourists show up to the U.S. expecting to see some of these fantastical scenes that were generated by AI.

“Sometime soon we’re going to get a story about tourists having weird meltdowns because the only things they knew about the places they’re visiting are bad AI generations,” Lund tweeted.

Lund pointed out that something very similar happened in the early 2010s when Chinese tourists visited Paris, France. They expected Paris to be, “like a pristine film set for a romantic love story,” as the New York Times described it in 2014. Instead, they were shocked by “the cigarette butts and dog manure, the rude insouciance of the locals and the gratuitous public displays of affection.”

Experts even have a name for when this happens, according to the Times:

Psychologists warned that Chinese tourists shaken by thieves and dashed expectations were at risk for Paris Syndrome, a condition in which foreigners suffer depression, anxiety, feelings of persecution and even hallucinations when their rosy images of Champagne, majestic architecture and Monet are upended by the stresses of a city whose natives are also known for being among the unhappiest people on the planet.

Given America’s enormous cultural footprint, plenty of people probably have a very different idea of the U.S. in their head compared to what they’d encounter upon visiting. And while you can blame a lot of that on Hollywood, there seems to be a new cultural catfisher in town.

Generative AI can turn any imaginary place into a passable reality with just a few simple text prompts. And if you visit the real city of Hollywood as an outsider, prepare to temper your expectations. It doesn’t look anything like the completely fictitious Hollywood Mountain.

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