Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast this past week, and social media played a huge role in recovery and information about the storm. However, not all of what was shared on social media was helpful to hurricane relief. Some of the pictures and stories that were shared were false. Along with many false pictures, one with the Statue of Liberty being consumed by a tidal wave, there were many false reports being spread about the conditions of the city after the storm. One of these reports was that the stock exchange was flooded with three feet of water. This was shared widely, and many people believed that the storm was far worse than it was, causing fear for many people who had friends and relatives in the affected area.
Although many people spread many different types of erroneous rumors, one culprit on Twitter was found to have been spreading the most prolific false reports about the hurricane. This person goes under the Twitter account name, #comfortablysmug. He made up the story about the stock exchange and made up several other stories about the metro systems and electricity in New York City. Recently, he was revealed to be hedgefund analyst, Shashank Tripathi. Tripathi’s false and shocking tweets were retweeted several hundred times. Although he has apologized for the false tweets, these tweets left a mark on the effects of social media on disaster relief. While social media can be very helpful, it can also hinder relief as false rumors can spread. It is important for people to remember to look for credible sources for their information following up a disaster.
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