Local News


Stop sharing these fake Hurricane Harvey photos

Several hoaxes are making the rounds
Posted at 7:35 AM, Sep 05, 2017

The damage to Houston is devastating, and so many of the pictures we've seen of rescues and rebuilding efforts will pull at your heartstrings.

But not all those photos are real: Some are hoaxes that only serve to confuse people if you share them with your Facebook friends.

It's a sad fact that many people now use tragedies as a way to get social media likes, shares and followers, and they'll do almost anything to get a post of theirs to go viral.

Unfortunately, it works, according to a recent report in the Washington Post.

Top offenders include:

Shark on a freeway

The most-shared fake Hurricane Harvey photo, with more than 100,000 retweets: a shark swimming down a Houston freeway. Except it wasn't. It was Photoshopped.


True, someone did find an alligator in his home during the flood (TV news reports all showed this), but there were no sharks -- on the freeway, in a grocery store, or anywhere.

Flooded airplanes

Ditto for the picture of all the airplanes underwater at Hobby Airport.


That dramatic photos of 757s and 767s sitting in 15 feet of water was a computer-generated mockup of what flooding could possibly do to New York's LaGuardia Airports.

Floating to safety in a refrigerator

The family fleeing in a floating refrigerator? Closer, because at least it is a real photo. However, it is from an older flood, not Hurricane Harvey.

Obama rushes to flood zone

And former President Barack Obama rushing to the disaster zone before President Donald Trump could get there, and dishing out meals to Hurricane Harvey victims?


That was Obama serving foods at a Thanksgiving meal two years ago.

That old hurricane photo...again

People with nothing to do who keep sharing old, fake photos over and over again.

The biggest offender was a picture of a giant, dark wall of water from Hurricane Harvey approaching from over the Gulf of Mexico.

Unfortunately, it was also Hurricane Matthew, Ike and Katrina, shared virtually after each of those storms, too -- and it wasn't real in any case. 

Joel Osteen waving from his yacht

Oh, and the photo of pastor Joel Osteen's million-dollar yacht sailing through the flooded Houston streets, waving to all the little people on the shore? Hopefully, you didn't believe that one (though you may have shared it because it was kinda funny).

Not sure about a photo? You can always check the hoax-busting website Snopes.com.

Or, even easier, just Google it. The best way is to go to Google Images, and search there.

If you Google for shark on a freeway, you'll learn in a second that it's fake, so you don't waste anyone's time and don't waste your money.


Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).

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