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Hurricane Sandy: the Internet is lying to you

Amid the destruction that Hurricane Sandy has unleashed on the East Coast, it’s also responsible for a lot of misinformation being passed around the Internet by people rubber-necking the storm via social media.

Here in Fresno, we go outside and see sunny skies and 80-degree temperatures. So when your mom shares something on Facebook that she got from someone she knew 20 years ago, it’s easy to believe it’s legit. We can’t just look out the window and know better. Besides, when did Mom ever lie to you?

However, many of the pictures getting passed most frequently are, at worst, totally Photoshopped or, at best, being used in the wrong context. This includes the original version of the now meme-ized pic above. The original, with a sky from Nebraska looking down ominously at Lady Liberty, is still the first thing that comes up in a Google Images search for “Hurricane Sandy.”

The pic of guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? Also not entirely true. That photo was taken in September — but soldiers are guarding it. The Atlantic and Mashable both have good photo-fact-checking collections, if you want sort the real from the fake.

Then there’s the guy who was posting fake “breaking news” about New York City on Twitter Monday night. It got passed around enough that people believed it (the news even reported some of it!) before it was debunked. Buzzfeed breaks it down and unmasks the culprit — who happens to be a political adviser and and hedge-fund analyst. Shocking, right? Like THAT guy needed another reason for people to think he’s a douche.

The point here is this: There’s a lot of information out there these days. Don’t always trust random people shouting stuff on Twitter or photos being passed around by who-knows-who on Facebook. It’s a lot like when the Internet kills a celebrity who’s not dead or when half of Fresno thought the Drake concert was canceled because they saw it on Facebook.

There’s good information out there and there’s bad information. This has always been true of the Internet. And with all apologies to your mom and her Facebook friends, there are people out there who are pros at doling out information.

Go check out:

Thanks to the the well-informed people I follow on Twitter who pointed out many of these links.

Responses to "Hurricane Sandy: the Internet is lying to you"

eric field says:

Oz:

other sites I recommend:
Asbury Park Press
Newark Star Ledger
Courier News

and an excellent site I found yesterday (very ‘point of view’ type stuff) is a site called ‘the gothamist’ -this has a lot of coverage from within NYC and Brooklyn and other hard-hit boroughs.

Most of the Jersey Shore got wrecked… friends of mine who’s spouses are in fire-departments and such are still getting stranded people from all the ‘barrier’ islands… (areas I was raised in such as Seaside Heights, Lavalette, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, (etc.) and all the surrounding communities got nailed really hard.)

Manhattan -all low-lying areas were and remain heavily underwater… (again) the barrier islands and such got hit the worst… we’re still trying to find out if some folks who lived out on Rockaway Beach and such are okay…

Remarkably, inland, there was not as much flooding and rain as was predicted, but tons of wind damage… millions of folks are without power (only family member that I know of actually has power, they’re closer to Pa.) and they’re talking power-out for week(s) in Jersey, Pa, Md. –with Manhattan still just a wading pool…

US Army Corps of Engineers also has good coverage, (and) the National Guard (who’s been on this from the beginning) are also covering it well.

Chris says:

You mean that pic above isn’t real? I mean, it’s just the part about the sky from Nebraska not being real, right?

Phillip Hardcastle says:

I live and work in Fresno, and am currently on business in Philadelphia. It is my first time on the east coast AND my first hurricane.I have seen all the media (including the Bee and the national news TV stations), as well as hearing from friends and family about what is being spread. To be quite honest, I’m a little disappointed about the non-event here in Philadelphia after hearing all the hype about the storm. I have spoken to others in my meetings who live along the eastern coast and have been flooded and required to evacuate, and I do sympathize with them. But Philadelphia was a total bust when I compare the hype about this storm to what actually happened here. We got a lot of rain and wind, and I don’t know about flooding, but my experience here was no different than a wintery day in Fresno.

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