Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Don't Believe the Internet: Hurricane Sandy

With the daunting Hurricane Sandy heading towards the east coast of the US, social media has done what it does best and shared images and statuses related to the storm. However, not all images that were shared were quite authentic, giving another example why what you see online shouldn't always be believed...
This shared image is in fact a Photoshop job. (mashable.com)
Social media is such a powerful tool for sharing messages and it's clear from the rise of the technology that people love to do that.  It has got slightly out of hand this week, however, where the desire to share imagery of the storm in the popular New York City has often overcome common sense as to whether images are real or not.  For example, the one above which is in fact a Photoshopped composition image.

(mashable.com)
The second image down has stirred patriotism among Americans and at least is a genuine image.  Unfortunately, it was not taken during Hurricane Sandy but during a rain storm a month ago.  McDonalds was a victim of the rising water levels, apparently.  However the image below is not real but is from an art installation!
(mashable.com)
All this goes to show people's desire to share on social media.  Doubly so during a widespread disaster of sorts.  However, the fashionability of being involved in this mass-sharing of content online gets in the way of true news reporting; what Twitter is really made for.

How to avoid this?  Don't believe everything you see on social media and other viral websites; stick to your BBC, your CNN, your Guardian for the truth of what's going on.  After all, wasn't it Abraham Lincoln who said 'the thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their validity'.