Beware: Fake Irma pictures, videos designed to fool you

Beware: Fake Irma pictures, videos designed to fool you
Posted at 1:03 PM, Sep 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-06 09:19:58-04

(RNN) - With ferocious Category 5 Hurricane Irma threatening the U.S. coast by the weekend, social media is filled with fake hurricane videos and pictures fooling unsuspecting people into sharing them widely.

Two Facebook pages posted a video purported to be live from near Hurricane Irma popped into a lot of feeds late Wednesday morning, shortly after the storm blasted Anguilla.

The first was from someone who designed their Facebook page to appear as if he was a storm chaser - including heavily doctored photographs - the other called "Conservative Today." Both pages passed the same video off as a live stream, but it was a looped 4-minute clip of high winds and an overturned bus from a previous storm, not from Hurricane Irma at all.

Many distributed the “Conservative Today” post, racking up hundreds of thousands of shares and likely millions of views within a couple of hours.

Facebook deleted both postings.

Another post on social media claiming to show footage of Hurricane Irma racked up more than 20 million views. The video was actually from a tornado that happened more than a year ago.

Old graphics from television stations have also been stolen and repurposed in an attempt to dupe people into believing an inaccurate storm track from a previous hurricane.

One such post taken from a Raycom Media station and posted to another Facebook page Monday depicted Hurricane Irma moving up the East Coast. That post also generated hundreds of thousands of shares and millions of views.

Twitter is not immune to fakery. A video of a tornado hitting Uraguay in 2016 was passed off as Irma, fooling many people including a meteorologist. 

There undoubtedly will be real video of high winds and damage from Hurricane Irma. Before sharing dramatic hurricane pictures or videos, here's how to make sure you're posting video and photos that are real:

  • Verify that the source of the image is reputable. If you’ve never heard of it, do a Google search.
  • Double-check with other sources to see if you can corroborate that the image or video is real.
  • Be skeptical – know that not everything you read on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites is real. Check other postings on that person's feed, including the "About" section.

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