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:
- New York Times’ photo gallery and its page documenting hurricane damage.
- The Washington Post’s coverage.
- USA Today’s photo gallery.
- Buzzfeed’s collection of New York City pictures and heroic first-responder pics.
- New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Flickr stream.
- Google’s crisis map.
- Hint.fm’s Wind Map.
Thanks to the the well-informed people I follow on Twitter who pointed out many of these links.