The Sandy photos that weren't

Last updated 21:22 30/10/2012

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If you are following real-time images of  super storm Sandy on sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, don't believe everything you see.

From images of completely different storms to the downright unbelievable Hollywood photoshop treatment, hundreds of fake photos purporting to be Sandy are circulating the internet.

There is even a website called Instacane, which is collating all storm-related photos that are tagged with terms such as "Sandy" and "hurricane". While many of these are indeed legitimate, others should be taken with a grain of salt.

On photo-sharing app Instagram, 10 photos are being uploaded of the storm every second, according to The New York Times.

One of those most famous viral photos from "Frankenstorm" so far is an image of three soldiers in uniform at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia.

However, the image is not of Sandy at all. It was taken in September by photographer Karin Markert.

A dramatic looking Statue of Liberty is seen in another image claiming to be from Sandy.

But, according to snopes.com, a website that verifies images, it's photoshopped from a tornado in Nebraska in May 2004. The originals can be seen at Extreme Instability.

A picture of an ominous New York City skyline also caused confusion as it went viral online, many claiming that it came from Sandy.

But it was taken by finance professional Charles Menjivar, was actually taken during a tornado warning last year. It was first published in The Wall Street Journal.

The image of a flooded fast food outlet has also been doing the rounds on social media, but fear not for your beloved Big Mac, it is actually from the 2009 film/art installation Flooded McDonald's.

Then there's the imagen swirling around the Twittersphere today that really comes straight out of the 2004 film The Day After Tomorrow.

A dark, though quite stunning, image of the George Washington Bridge has popped up on Twitter several times, but is actually a stock photo from Getty Images, taken in 2009.


This conflated storm porn is nothing new, however, as doctored images of Hurricane Isaac earlier this year, and even Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, have been circulating the web for years.

How to spot a fake image

Just as there are more ways than ever before for online pranksters to fool us into believing these images are real, there are also more tools than ever before to catch them out.

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1. Google image search

  • Go to Google.com/images
  • Type in the URL of the image, or simply drag and drop it there
  • Google will show you other instances of that image that have been published on the web

2. TinEye reverse image search

  • Go to tineye.com
  • Upload the image or type in the URL of the image
  • Similar to Google, TinEye will reveal where that image has appeared previously on the web

3. Ask

  • Before you retweet, like or share the image, ask the person if they took the photo themselves
  • If they didn't, ask where they got it, and check out the source for yourself

- Fairfax Media with agencies

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