They show a photo of a foot on a page of an opened bible, then another of the sole of a foot covered with small puncture holes.
The text reads: “Young man does this to the Bible saying there is no God, and God surprised his legs with a gift. You need to share this to those who says there is no God”. The meme was posted on 18 July 2018 and has been shared more than 8,000 times.
‘Dangerous insect’ hoax
In March 2019 Africa Check debunked a different claim that used the second photo. (In the bible meme it was just rotated, mirrored and edited slightly.)
This time it was claimed the holes in the foot were caused by stepping on a “dangerous insect” – found to be the harmless giant water bug.
We rated it a hoax.
‘Fear of small clustered holes’
A Google image search for the photo brings up articles on a condition called trypophobia.
One, on Medical News Today, says the condition is “thought to be triggered when a person sees patterns of small clustered holes”.
The symptoms “bring about symptoms such as fear, disgust and anxiety”.
A 2018 Mavcure article says “the phobia is psychologically real but there is no such medical condition known to cause holes in the skin”.
First published in trypophobia-triggering gallery
The photo is found on a number of webpages that describe trypophobia, but seems to have originally been published on the site Trypophobia.com.
It appears in the sites’ “makeup” gallery. This includes many other images that use makeup to create the illusion of holes in various parts of the body.
Online videos show how trypophobia-triggering effects can be created on different parts of the body by makeup artists.
Black foot, white foot?
There’s another clear sign that the image is a hoax.
This is the fact that the foot on the bible belongs to a black person, while the foot with holes in it seems to be of a white person.
There is no evidence that stepping on the bible can harm your feet. – Taryn Willows (28/05/19)
For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false
A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?
Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.Publishers guide
Africa Check teams up with Facebook
Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.
The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.
You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.