(Featured photo: Tweet)

Cutting through the clutter on Twitter during severe weather and other disasters in the midst of breaking news seems to be getting more and more difficult these days.

As tornadoes struck the Midwest over the weekend, devastating towns and killing several people, there were unfortunately also the usual instances of trolling with fake photos that ultimately tricked many on social media, some even making their way to media outlets.

Mediabistro’s TVSpy blog reported that an “iwitness” submission of a doctored photo that included a fake tornado, a UFO and Bigfoot made its way onto a local Indiana TV station website.  (Spotted by Indianapolis Star reporter Eric Weddle and reported by Jim Romenesko).

A news director for the station told TVSpy, “The photo was published to the wthr.com photo gallery by someone outside our building.  At the height of the storm and in the aftermath of it, we received a lot of viewer photographs & video, and this one slipped through our verification protocols.”  It has since been removed.

One viewer noticed something terribly off about one particular photo featured in the storm coverage from a local Chicago CBS affiliate report after observing a…shall we say, off-color and clearly fake…road sign in it (hence, a video warning for you).

(Video credit YouTube user inyourfaces2011)

It turns out the photo itself (minus the sign) was a Reuters photo from late May’s tornadoes in Oklahoma, as Daily Dot and Deadspin noted.

And sometimes users themselves are the ones duped.  The Epoch Times reported that a Twitter user who alerted at least one media outlet of tornado wreckage in an Illinois town later apologized when he realized it was a fake photo his cousin apparently passed off to him as a “prank.”


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