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Millions of People Just Watched a 'Live' GIF on Facebook for Hours

Screencap: Facebook
Screencap: Facebook

Earlier today, approximately 17 million Facebook Live users tuned in to an awe-inspiring video of nature at its fiercest: a massive, swirling supercell storm. In the sense that “live” means “actually happening right now,” however, this stream was 100 percent fake.

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As many commenters surmised, the “stream” was little more than a short, looping gif dubbed over with stock thunderclap sound effects, prompting responses like “it’s fake” that elicited replies from even bigger rubes pointing out that supercell storms are absolutely a thing that exists. Never change, Facebook commenters.

The stream itself comes to us from a sketchy-looking page called Newsfeed. And moments after the Facebook Live video hit its four-hour limit, a new stream began on another page called The Cherry Orchard. (Both pages list the same domain, newsfeed.pro, as their homepage, which is basically just a collection of copied-and-pasted jokes with a salacious banner photo.)

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Illustration for article titled Millions of People Just Watched a Live GIF on Facebook for Hours

The Cherry Orchard and Newsfeed aren’t the only pages sapping views off this eternal storm. A page called NTD Television pulled this same trick yesterday—pocketing an easy 7.6 million views—and gave credit to CONTENTbible. What the hell is CONTENTbible? Some kind of viral video licenser, apparently. But its not the creator of the gif in question.

After a bit of sleuthing, the origins of this gif can be traced to a Slovenian man named Marko Korosec, who managed to snap pictures of a supercell that formed over western South Dakota on June 19... of 2015. For a storm chaser like Korosec, it must have been a dream come true, since the clouds and eventual tornado resulted in “hail around the size of softballs and winds around 100 mph,” according to the National Weather Service.

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The gif itself was created by Korosec’s friend Jonathan Wennström, presumably through some compositing of the 2015 photos, and according to a recent Instagram post, the pair are excited that the animation has “gone viral” for—as always—reasons unknown.

[Matt Navarra]

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Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// bgmwrites@gmail.com Keybase: keybase.io/bryangm Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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DISCUSSION

It baffles me that some of these content mills have *so many* followers. I see people posting shit all the time that’s just some video that made the rounds ages ago letterboxed with some shitty text above and below. Where do they get the traction? Why do people follow these places? There is truly no sense of quality or taste anymore. That’s how all the fake news bullshit (*actual* fake news, not the president’s interpretation of “things I don’t like = fake news”) spread so far and wide. I am truly astounded every day by the kind of crap people spread, share, and like on social media - and I’m talking people I considered intelligent, not just some slack-jawed rubes I went to school with 20 years ago. Do so few people lack the tiniest modicum of critical thinking skills?