Fake tornado pictures on social media spawn concern regarding online misinformation

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Tuesday, the remnants of Hurricane Ida spawned two EF-1 tornadoes in Montgomery County, one several miles southeast of Radford and the other just northwest of Merrimac.

While the severe weather threat was real, some supposed pictures of the two tornadoes circulating on social media were far from the truth.

Some posters of fake images may find it funny to spread misinformation, but Meteorologist Phil Hysell with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg says it’s no laughing matter.

The fake images can put others at risk.

“It creates a ‘Cry Wolf’ Syndrome where a couple days later, we realize that these photos are not real and the next time we have a life-threatening weather situation and those who saw these fake photos earlier may say ‘You know, I was fooled the last time. I’m not sure I should believe this,’ and so they don’t take the appropriate actions because of these false images,” explained Hysell.

Hysell advises only sharing an image if you can verify its validity. The best way to make sure a picture is what the poster says it is, is to get it from the National Weather Service or a trusted media source.

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