No, there isn't a shark swimming down a Houston freeway, and other fake viral photos from Harvey

Posted August 30
Updated August 31

A photo of a shark swimming down a Houston freeway went viral on Monday in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

Only the photo is fake, a hoax put on by Twitter user Jason Michael McCann.

McCann told BuzzFeed News that he shared the photo at 6 a.m. Monday morning, even though he knew it was fake. He said he expected to receive a lot of attention from it.

"Of course I knew it was fake, it was part of the reason I shared the bloomin' thing," McCann told BuzzFeed. "What I had expected was to tweet that and have my 1,300 followers in Scotland to laugh at it. This was, of course, the intent."

The photo received more than 64,000 retweets, and it’s still gaining. But McCann admitted it’s a fraud.

In fact, the same photo made the rounds during previous natural disasters, like hurricanes Irene, Sandy and Matthew.

From 2015:

McCann, who hopes to launch his own independent journalism platform, said he doesn’t see the photo as a threat to journalistic integrity.

"We are responsible for how we receive the information we’re getting. If people choose to be fooled by a shark swimming by a car, I don’t think it says a great deal about me," McCann said.

He added, "There was no deliberate malice in it. It was just me having a poke at reality. I would feel heart rendered or appalled at myself if I shared something with real consequences."

These aren’t the only fake photos swimming around on social media. A photo supposedly showing the Houston airport actually is a Photoshopped image of LaGuardia Airport in New York City.

Another photo from the 2016 flood in Greenspoint, Texas, shows a father rowing his two sons inside a refridgerator also made the rounds this weekend, with tweeters saying it happened during Harvey, even though it wasn't.

Similarly, Houston's Office of Emergency Management and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner both responded to a false rumor that the city was shutting off water due to the floods.


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