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HOAX - 'Google Earth Finds SOS From Woman Stranded on Deserted Island'


Circulating report that features an image depicting an SOS sign drawn on the ground and viewed from a high altitude, claims that the sign was made by a woman stranded on a deserted island for 7 years. The report suggests that the SOS was finally spotted via Google Earth.

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© chrisdorney

Brief Analysis

The report is untrue. The event described never took place. The image is a cropped version of a satellite picture showing an SOS sign created by people caught up in a violent ethnic conflict at the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan in 2010. The uncropped image shows buildings and roadways and clearly does not depict a deserted island. The report comes courtesy of NewsHound, a website that specializes in perpetrating false and misleading articles disguised as news.


In 2007, Gemma Sheridan and 2 friends set out on a voyage that was to take them from their home town of Liverpool, across the Atlantic to the Panama Canal and then onwards to the beautiful island of Hawaii.

The first stage of the voyage went without incident. However, after passing through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific, things started to take a turn for the worse.

Goolge Earth SOS

Detailed Analysis

According to a report currently circulating via social media, a woman stranded on a deserted island for seven years has been rescued after a Google Earth user spotted an SOS sign she had drawn on the island's beach.

The report outlines the harrowing tale of how the woman, Gemma Sheridan, was trapped on the island back in 2007 after her boat was wrecked in a storm. It features a picture of the SOS sign that was spotted on Google Earth by 'some kid from Minnesota'.

However, while it may be somewhat entertaining, the story is untrue. Searches reveal that snippets of the story's text were stolen from a factual news report about the experience of former army captain Ed Stafford, who survived for sixty days on his own on a deserted island. But, other than that nebulose connection, the story is purely a work of fiction.

Moreover, a quick reverse image search on the SOS picture reveals that it has no connection whatsoever to the fake 'deserted island' story. The picture actually depicts an SOS message created by people caught up in a bloody ethnic conflict that occurred in the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan back in June 2010. As shown below, the original uncropped satellite SOS image shows buildings and roadways and quite clearly does not show a beach on a deserted island:

SOS Google Earth
(Image (c) Digital Globe 2010)

The fake report originates from NewsHound, a publication that seemingly specializes in publishing all manner of nonsense disguised as news. In another 'news' story, it regurgitates the absurd claim that an upcoming 'planetary alignment' will decrease Earth's gravity. And, in yet another, it publishes an old hoax about KFC changing its name because it no longer users real chicken. In short, nothing published on the site should be taken seriously.

Last updated: March 20, 2014
First published: March 20, 2014
Written by Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

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