Videos and live streams described as showing the effects of Hurricane Irma clocked up tens of millions of views on Facebook by Wednesday; the only problem: they weren’t of Irma, and they weren’t live.
One stream went “live” just before 11 a.m. ET described as “shocking video” of Irma. The video gained more than 6 million views and more than 160,000 shares on the platform, with hundreds of comments from concerned viewers. “Blessings to everyone over there,” one read.
Although the stream was tagged “live” on the platform, it was actually video that was at least nine months old. The video is only about three minutes long, but was set on a loop. The stream remained “live” for over two hours
CNN has not confirmed the original source of the video, but versions of the video appeared online as early as December 2016 and were characterized as showing a bus flipping over during Cyclone Vardah in India.
The video’s virality may have been helped by the fact it appeared on a Facebook verified page named “Carlos Trewher.”
The page has a blue verification badge. “We apply the blue verification badge to eligible brands, media organizations and public figures. Eligibility for the blue verification badge is based on a variety of factors, such as account completeness, policy compliance and public interest,” Facebook says on its website.
CNN reached out to the Facebook page’s administrator and the social accounts linked from the page. The website linked from the page is no longer active.
The “live stream” was removed from Facebook on Wednesday afternoon. However, another video, posted on Tuesday and described as showing Hurricane Irma reaching the island of Barbuda in the Caribbean, was still being shared widely on the platform on Wednesday. The video, posted on a Facebook profile, had more than 20 million views and more than 600,000 shares, however, the video does not show Hurricane Irma.
CNN has not confirmed the original source of the video, but versions of the video were posted online as early as May 2016.