Facts Matter: Hurricane Michael brings death, destruction and fake photos

  • A flooded airport shown and shared on social media was not from Hurricane Michael, and in fact wasn't an authentic photo, Snopes.com says.

    A flooded airport shown and shared on social media was not from Hurricane Michael, and in fact wasn't an authentic photo, Snopes.com says.

Updated 10/13/2018 4:30 PM

Among the extraordinary photos of Hurricane Michael's destruction being shared on social media is an image of airplanes nearly underwater at an airport.

But the picture was not taken at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport near Panama City, as the social media posts claim, and isn't even an actual photograph, according to Snopes.com.


It was taken from a larger, digitally altered image created by artist Nickolay Lamm to illustrate the effect of climate change. The photo was first used in 2013 by the website Climate Central to show a worst-case scenario at LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport officials released a statement Thursday that said the facility is operational but commercial flights were suspended until further notice, Snopes said.

The same photo also made the rounds on social media in August 2017 claiming it was a depiction of an airport in Houston, Texas, flooded by Hurricane Harvey, according to Snopes.

Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle. At least 17 people have died since the storm, ranked as one of the four most powerful hurricanes to strike the U.S., made landfall on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.

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Judge's home not vandalized

A false report stating Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home in Mayo Lake, Pennsylvania, was vandalized by left-wing extremists throwing bricks, bottles and calendars originated on the satire site America's Last Line of Defense, according to The Associated Press.

The story, claiming 200 left-wing protesters caused $11,000 in damage to the Kavanaugh home, was circulated on social media as a true story, AP said.

Kavanaugh who was sworn in as the 114th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court last week, lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Mayo Lake is a fictional town, according to AP.

There have been no reports of vandalism or protests in the area since Kavanaugh was nominated for the Supreme Court, Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland, told the AP.

Kavanaugh not 'proven innocent'

During a ceremonial swearing-in for Kavanaugh last week, President Donald Trump said the new Supreme Court justice was "proven innocent."


However, Kavanaugh was not proved innocent because he was not a criminal defendant, according to Washington Post columnist Deanna Paul. A confirmation hearing for a position on the Supreme Court is not a trial nor an adjudication of guilt.

In addition, courts judge whether someone is guilty or, if there is insufficient proof, not guilty -- which is different from being innocent.

"We don't judge innocence in courtrooms in the United States," Duke University School of Law professor Donald Beskind told the Post.

Aisle for lonely shoppers doesn't exist

A fake image of a grocery store's aisle 12, featuring cat food, cat toys, wine and meals for one, has been shared as the place for lonely people to shop.

The photo is not real, according to Snopes.com.

It was digitally altered using an original picture of store displays offered by Britten, a company that makes signs and banners. The actual items in aisle 12 in the company's photo are shampoo, hair care, deodorant and bar soap, Snopes said.

It was likely created by social media user @aranjevi, based on a watermark added to the image, Snopes said.

According to Snopes, the photo has also been shared with captions that include: "This supermarket knows its target demography," "Strong independent woman aisle" and "You know you're single when …"

Greenspan not dead, 'doing great'

False Twitter posts on Tuesday claimed former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan had died, <URL destination="https://www.apnews.com/afs:Content:2318970200/NOT-REAL-NEWS:-Former-Fed-chair-Alan-Greenspan-has-died">according to The Associated Press.

</URL>"By now you know the rumors are a hoax," Greenspan's wife Andrea Mitchell tweeted. "Alan's doing great. In fact, he has a new book out next week!"

Some Twitter users apologized online for spreading the rumor, AP said. The Twitter account that started the false news was suspended.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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