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These Viral Photos From Hurricane Matthew Are Totally Fake

Illustration for article titled These Viral Photos From Hurricane Matthew Are Totally Fake

Every time a natural disaster hits, we see plenty of fake photos on social media. And with Hurricane Matthew currently hitting Florida, there are lots of fake images currently doing the rounds. The short version: If you see a photo of sharks in the streets, it’s probably fake.

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1) Is this a “shark on the streets in Daytona Beach”?

Nope. It’s a fake that has gone viral dozens of times—including during Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene, and just your run-of-the-mill flooding in virtually every corner of the globe.

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As Snopes pointed out in an article from 2015, the original photo of the shark actually comes from a 2005 magazine spread. It’s hard to believe that the photo with the kayaker from 2005 is even real, but we know two things for certain: It’s a photoshop job, and it’s not from Hurricane Matthew.


Illustration for article titled These Viral Photos From Hurricane Matthew Are Totally Fake

2) Is this the Daytona International Speedway currently flooding?

Wrong again. According to the folks over at Auto Week, the photo that’s doing the rounds is actually from 2009. Yes, the Daytona Speedway really did experience massive flooding seven years ago, but this photo isn’t from Hurricane Matthew.

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Illustration for article titled These Viral Photos From Hurricane Matthew Are Totally Fake
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3) Is this a shark taking advantage of Hurricane Matthew to invade the streets of Jacksonville, Florida?

No. It’s another fake that we’ve seen pop up time and again whenever flooding occurs anywhere in the country. As just one example, this guy claims that a fellow church member found a shark in his front yard. Except that they didn’t.

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And here’s another one from Twitter of the same photo:

My friend just sent me this pic from #Jacksonville #FL #HurricaneMatthew storm surge, rising waters & SHARKS! stay safe everyone! @KSL5TV

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Either your friend is messing with you, or you’re a liar. As The Atlantic pointed out years ago while debunking fakes from Hurricane Sandy, the original shark photo is from 2006 and can be found on Flickr.

Sadly, that doesn’t stop news outlets from taking the bait.

News employees asking to use a fake photo of a shark purporting to be from Hurricane Matthew (Screenshot on Twitter)
News employees asking to use a fake photo of a shark purporting to be from Hurricane Matthew (Screenshot on Twitter)
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Thankfully we haven’t seen these social media hoaxes make it to mainstream news sites yet, but it’s only a matter of time. If you see any other fabricated photos from Hurricane Matthew floating around, let us know. Natural disasters really tend to bring out the fakes.

Update, 5:50pm: A local CBS TV station in Atlanta reported on one of the “front yard shark” photos as though it were real.

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Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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DISCUSSION

I keep waiting for the inevitable view of Florida from space that shows the power outages. I haven’t seen it yet, so I decided to make my own.

I even included a misspelling because that’s how bad I expect it to be. You’re welcome.