Fake photo of hurricane Sandy goes viral on Facebook

During breaking news stories like natural disasters, social media can be an invaluable news source. The problem is that with increasing attention the likeliness that someone will take advantage of the situation also increases. Yesterday, it didn’t take long for spam links to appear on Twitter under the hashtag #hitsunami which was used to report about events during the supposed tsunami that would hit Hawaii.

Also, pranksters and people who are just misinformed tend to spread false rumours and fake photos and videos because social media is so fast and few of us actually stop for a moment to check the source of the information. A photo from the hurricane Sandy, aka Frankenstorm, has just gone viral on Facebook with currently more than 177,000 shares. The problem is that it is fake, and definitely not taken today. A quick picture search on Google reveals that the image appeared already two years ago.

The viral image:


A two year old version of the image from Sept 16, 2010 was posted on Urban Legends (link now taken down).

The person who posted the image on Facebook also did some research and concluded that it was fake:


Here is the original photo of the thunderstorm that was used to create the fake image:


As always, it if looks to good to be true, it probably isn’t true. Stop for a moment and check before you share.

Hat tip: I found this via Andreas, @Iam_Curtis on Twitter.

3 thoughts on “Fake photo of hurricane Sandy goes viral on Facebook”

  1. I have seen this image probably a dozen and a half times already today and pretty much figured it was false. It took me 30 seconds to look it up and find that it is in fact not real. Still, it is faster for people to reblog, retweet, share or repin this image than to check if all the information is correct. Similarly, this image of soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2012/10/29/caution-that-hurricane-sandy-photo-may-not-be-real/ was also revealed as a fake today. Social media is a giant, but as is the nature of the beast, misinformation can swarm at an alarming rate. This is why it is so important to be on top of your client’s social media presence. If poor information gets out, it is up to PR pros to correct it before it becomes a monster.

  2. I agree Olivia, usually you can figure fake picture really quick but many people share, tweet and pin these pictures not knowing that they just might create media monster.

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