10 Fake Photos of Hurricane Sandy That Went Viral


Originally published October 30, 2012.

Among the stunning photos of Hurricane Sandy, a number of fakes also went viral. Some helpful journalists have laid out ways to sniff out the fakes from the real thing, and others have turned to debunking the frauds themselves.

1. Storm Clouds Over Manhattan

Some of the photos making the rounds on Twitter are real, but have nothing to do with Sandy. This amazing view of a storm brewing over lower Manhattan, for example, is from an April 2011 tornado, captured on film byThe Wall Street Journal.

2. Flooded McDonald's

Also in the not-fake-but-not-Sandy category is this picture purporting to be from a hurricane-ravaged McDonald's in Virginia. It's not. In a case of life imitating art, the photo is from a 2009 installation/film called, appropriately enough, Flooded McDonald's.

3. Scuba Diver In The Subway

The bulk of the faux photos involve varying degree of skill with image-editing software like Photoshop. In this imaginative mash-up, a scuba diver explores the 14th Street-Union Square a Times Square subway stop in Manhattan.

4. Shark In Flood Waters, Part One

Sharks were well represented in the doctored flood photos from New York and New Jersey. This photo, from Kevin McCarty, of actually flooded Brigantine, N.J., fooled a lot of people on Twitter but mostly earned eye-rolls from his friends on Facebook.

5. Shark In Flood Waters, Part Two

This frequently-retweeted photo is also from Brigantine. A Twitter user named Tom Phillips found the shark used in this Photoshop job in a Google image search.

6. Shark In Flood Waters, Part Three

The final shark photo, also purportedly from a street in New Jersey, not only isn't real, it isn't new. It first made the rounds after 2011's Hurricane Irene, when it (slightly more plausibly) pretended to be in the streets of Puerto Rico.

7. Storm Clouds Behind The Statue Of Liberty

This impressive-looking storm gathering behind the Statue of Liberty is actually from 2004, in Nebraska, captured on film by storm chaser and photographer Mike Hollingshead.

8. Not News You Can Use

In this photo, Lady Liberty looks like she's under attack from Sandy's massive storm surge, but really is being washed away by the Hollywood special effects team behind 2004's

The Day After Tomorrow

. In a minor bit of post-screengrab doctoring, the image "has had a New York TV logo superimposed on it to fool people,"

says The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal


9. Lady Liberty Hides

Given how eager Twitter users have been to sic Sandy on her, Lady Liberty could be excused for trying to lay low, as in this not-even-trying-to-fool-you Photoshop job.

10. Statue of Liberty + Kitty

Like No. 9, this one didn't take any sophisticated sleuthing to debunk. The Atlantic's Madrigal scores it "fake (but awesome)."

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The Web's Best Visualizations of Hurricane Sandy

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Sources: The AgeAtlanticChicago TribuneHoax-Slayer, Mashable,NBC Today, Tumblr, Wall Street Journal, WPIX 11