It's an arresting photograph: Three soldiers in full uniform keep watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as Hurricane Sandy soaks them to the core.
On Facebook, the stirring picture has more than 70,000 likes and 90,000 shares, and the viral image was picked up by NPR, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Talking Points Memo and others according to Poynter.
The only problem? It's not a picture from Hurricane Sandy.
The picture, taken by photographer Karin Markert, is actually from September.
— Karin Markert (@KMarkert88) October 29, 2012
In a comment posted by Poynter, Markert elaborates on the image's (inaccurate) claim to fame.
"I was using it as my Facebook cover photo, which apparently is 'public,' and what do you know? … Nobody 'stole' it, IMHO. My guess is people are just sharing how proud they are of these soldiers and others," she said.
As the hurricane originally dubbed "Frankenstorm" dumps water throughout the Northeast, the Internet has been similarly flooded with "amazing" pictures of the storm that are truly too good to be true.This photo has also been retweeted thousands of times:
Hurricane Sandy approaching New York. twitter.com/efitz6/status/…
— Eamonn Fitzmaurice (@efitz6) October 29, 2012
Unfortunately, the picture is not from Hurricane Sandy, but rather from a tornado warning last year. Originally appearing in this Wall Street Journal article, the photo was taken through a tinted window by a finance professional named Charles Menjivar.
It's not uncommon for tweet-happy social media addicts to post pictures with little fact checking. But veteran journalists are also fooled, as is evidenced from Tomb of the Unknown Soldier story, as well as this tweet from Fox5's Sarah Simmons (actually a stock photo of the George Washington Bridge from 2009).
— Sarah Simmons (@SimmonsFox5) October 29, 2012
Some hoax photos are easier to spot than others. BuzzFeed's list of viral photos not of Hurricane Sandy includes an image of a flooded McDonald's (actually a German art installation) and a screen grab from the disaster film "The Day After Tomorrow."
Harder to spot are pictures re-appropriated from earlier storms, such as this oft-posted image actually taken of a storm in Brunei, on the north coast of the island of Borneo.
The photos reinforce the notion that "just because you see it on the Internet, doesn't mean it's true." (Case in point: this photoshopped picture of a shark swimming up a Puerto Rican street allegedly flooded by Hurricane Irene.)
Check out some real storm photos from Hurricane Sandy below.
CORRECTION: A previous draft of this article incorrectly identified the bridge in the stock photo tweeted by Fox5's Sarah Simmons. In fact the picture is of the George Washington Bridge.
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