During the recent Superstorm Sandy, we noticed that there was just about as much misinformation popping up in the news as there was actual, vetted, credible information–yet another reminder of why news literacy matters. We put out a call for your favorite less-than-true stories, and here’s what you came back with:
Maybe it’s because so many people were stuck inside with nothing to do, but a number of Photoshopped images claiming to represent the storm in New York City and elsewhere have popped up–this one to the left might be among the most circulated. Buzzfeed posted a group of viral fake storm images, and The Week gets points for lassoing the best shark-related pictures.
The report first popped up in a bulletin from ‘local NYC media,’ then the National Weather Service included it in a Local Storm Report and finally, CNN mentioned it on-air when meteorologist Chad Myers brought it up with Piers Morgan. A little backpedaling later, along with no real specifics about the NYC media that provided the report, and we’re all reminded about why it’s so important to check your sources.
Pretty Much Anything from @ComfortablySmug
Also known as Shashank Tripathi, @ComfortablySmug sent out a stream of bogus tweets–all, it appears, with the full knowledge that they were untrue. Among his falsehoods were that subway service would be down all week, Manhattan was in a total blackout, and that Governor Cuomo was “trapped in Manhattan.” After being outed by BuzzFeed (but not before demanding an apology once they questioned his truthy skills), Tripathi issued an apology on Twitter for his “series of irresponsible and inaccurate tweets.”
Barack Obama: Sandy Puppetmaster
HaarpStatus.com alleges to be the website for the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), a military project which is designed to control weather patterns by manipulating electromagnetic waves in the ionosphere. It is run by an amateur meteorologist named Kevin Martin, who runs several similar sites that at first glance appear to be legitimate; the National Weather Service once put out a notification clarifying that it was in no way affiliated with Martin when it was concerned that his site design was too similar to their own.
Anyway, on Thursday, HaarpStatus.com reported elevated levels of HAARP frequency, leading Kurt Nimmo at Infowars.com to logically conclude that “the government (or factions within) are manipulating the ionosphere and driving Sandy into the East Coast to create chaos and Katrina-like post storm conditions that will have significant political ramifications during the November 6th election.” He even positions a quote from a Brookings Institution fellow in such a way as to lend credibility to his theory.