Fake social posts, photos proliferate during Hurricane Sandy

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New York—Public eagerness to gain information about Hurricane Sandy revealed a glaring weakness in social media sharing, as fake news reports and photos about the storm's impact proliferated across the blogosphere. Among the posts were several false reports from a Twitter user, including one asserting that the New York Stock Exchange trading floor was flooded. The report was retweeted more than 600 times, including by CNN, the Weather Channel and the Washington Post. Altered photos also appeared on Imgur and Instagram, and included scuba divers in New York's subway tubes, sharks swimming down flooded streets and the Statue of Liberty under water. Traditional journalism outlets set up screening sites to separate real from fake posts and photos, such as this one from The Atlantic, which focused on fake versus real storm photos. While much social commentary may be protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech, New York Councilman Peter Vallone said he will consult with authorities about bringing charges against the Twitter user who claimed the NYSE was flooded.
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