Fact Check


A seller submitted a photo of a tea kettle with a revealing reflection to an online auction site.

Published April 2, 2002

A seller submitted a photo of a tea kettle with a revealing reflection to an online auction site.

One of the many trends spawned by the internet is a phenomenon known as Reflectoporn -- the deliberate posting of photographs of items with reflective surfaces to online auction sites, with those pictures "accidentally" capturing reflected images of the sellers/photographs in various states of undress.

The photograph that is generally credited with kicking off the Reflectoporn trend is an image of a tea kettle, which was posted to sold.com.au, an Australian on-line auction site, in August 2001 and thereafter widely mocked:


This is a quick note to all would-be auctioneers: Folks, if you're going to be selling something that people are going to be drinking fluids out of, please take some extra time to either put on some clothes before taking a picture, or concentrate on selling the non-reflective items in your kitchen. Thank you.

That the posting of the revealing image was unlikely to have been accidental was confirmed by a trace of the seller's user ID, which showed him to be one of a group of people who were planting similar pictures on various web sites.

Other examples of Reflectoporn appeared in an auction for a television on the UK version of eBay in December 2002:

And in an eBay auction for a guitar in April 2003:

We started seeing the following picture of a dining room set in February 2005, although we don't know if it actually was, as claimed, used in on-line auction posting or other type advertisement:

This is an actual photo that was put in the classified ads for someone selling a dining room set. There's a pretty strong clue in here suggesting that it was taken by a man.

Sharpen your powers of observation and try to find the clue. Good luck.

The concept appeared (in muted form) in an online "garage sale" advertisement for a microwave oven:

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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