Fact Check

Did Las Vegas Sphere Really Show a Windows Error Message?

"Microsoft ruined the Las Vegas sphere," one X user commented.

Published Feb. 27, 2024

 (X user @cb_doge)
Image Via X user @cb_doge
Claim:
Photographs shared online in late February 2024 authentically showed the Las Vegas sphere displaying a Windows error message.

In late February 2024, social media users shared a picture allegedly depicting the Las Vegas Sphere, a venue designed for immersive performances, music events and other gatherings, displaying a Windows error message. One X (formerly Twitter) user captioned it "Microsoft ruined the Las Vegas sphere," and the post had more than 5 million views as of this writing.

The same image was reposted by various social media profiles and websites, including Russian- and Czech-language ones, and the earliest posts we have found were dated July 7, 2023. 

The sphere, located at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, is a project announced by the Madison Square Garden Co. in 2018 and designed by Populous, a global design firm. 

When we compared the in-question image with other footage of the sphere, we noticed that the halo visible in the image is unnaturally large and exaggerated, proving that the picture was digitally edited.

To confirm our findings we used FotoForensics, a platform that specializes in digital image forensics, helping to determine authenticity of the uploaded images and detect any potential alterations or manipulations.

This website performs an Error Level Analysis technique, intentionally resaving an image at a known error rate (such as 95%), then subtracting the resaved image from the original image to reveal the differences. These differences, or "error levels," can help identify areas of the image that were added or modified. If an image is unaltered, the entire image should have a similar error level. However, if parts of the image were added or altered, those areas will likely have a different error level, indicating potential manipulation. 

The results of the FotoForensics are visible below, indicating the places where the image was edited (the overlay of the sphere and the text inside).

(FotoForensics)

Moreover, no reputable news media reported on this alleged event of Las Vegas Sphere shutting down and showing a Windows error message, therefore we rate this image as "Fake."

It's not the first time someone edited the Las Vegas sphere with a Windows error message. We found other examples of social media users editing it and adding Windows messages.

(Twitter users @KetuAlbrecht and @SerfsLs)

In the above case, the editing seemed more evident, as many imperfections could be seen in the image.


(Twitter user @KetuAlbrecht)

The FotoForensics tool confirmed our findings, clearly showing where exactly the image was digitally altered.

(FotoForensics)

We reached out to the Sphere Entertainment for comment and the company confirmed the picture was digitally edited.

Sources

Akers, Mick. "Next Las Vegas Arena a 360-Foot-Tall Sphere." Las Vegas Sun, 9 Feb. 2018, https://lasvegassun.com/news/2018/feb/09/next-las-vegas-arena-a-360-foot-tall-sphere/.

Griggs, Brandon. "This Futuristic Entertainment Venue in Las Vegas Is the World's Largest Spherical Structure." CNN, 5 July 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/07/05/travel/msg-sphere-las-vegas-venue-cec/index.html.

Holmes, Oliver. "Las Vegas Lights up with Dome Billed as World's Largest Video Screen." The Guardian, 6 July 2023. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jul/06/las-vegas-sphere-lights-up-dome-billed-world-largest-video-screen.

"Populous to Bring Global Experience to the Italian Sports and Entertainment Market." Populous, 9 Sept. 2021, https://populous.com/populous-to-bring-global-experience-to-the-italian-sports-and-entertainment-market.

Sphere | Immersive Shows, Concerts & Events in Las Vegas. https://www.thespherevegas.com/. 

"Sphere Entertainment Co." Sphere Entertainment Co., https://www.sphereentertainmentco.com/. 

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.