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Tornado photo hoax

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Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A photo of Fargo 1957 tornado has been getting a lot of attention on social media for the wrong reasons.

It was being passed off as a photo of yesterday's tornado that touched down in Indianapolis.

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This photo is the one at the center of this online photo hoax.

It was shared through social media, and even duped a few news outlets.

It's an example of how easy it can be for fake information to spread on the web.

When it comes to a tornado hoax, it's not easy to slip one by a professional meteorologist.

After an EF-1 tornado touched down in Indianapolis, Twitter user Josh Kiefer posted this photo - and told news outlets that he had taken it.

White: "I saw people re-tweeting this tornado and I was like…  that looks familiar. That's the picture of the Fargo tornado."

And it was: an old photo of the massive and deadly F-5 tornado that ripped through the city 57 years ago this month.

WDAY Meteorologist Aaron White says he sees these phony posts often.

Aaron White- StormTRACKER Meteorologist: "You'll see pictures that people post that are from 10 years ago because they just want to get attention on social media."

There was no serious damage from the Indianapolis storm, but it just goes to show how easy it can be to spread misinformation online.

Social Media expert Maren Hamilton says it comes down to trust.

Maren Hamilton- Flint Comm. Social Media Specialist: "People trust their friends. And whether your Facebook friends and your friends in real life or not, you're going to trust the information they post there."

One Twitter user wasn't having it - and decided to do something.

Alex Lamers edited the photo, pointing out that it was the 1957 twister, and started sharing that in response.

And here's a glimmer of hope: a study by Stanford and Facebook found that people are even more likely to correct misinformation than to spread it.

Hamilton: "It's good that there are still people out there that are going around and making sure that the right news is out there."

The Twitter user who posted the photo has since blocked public access to his profile - his bio says he is a "Sophomore."

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Becky Parker
Becky Parker - Becky Parker joined the WDAY 6 News team in July of 2012. She was born and raised in Williston, North Dakota.  She graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in political science.   At NDSU, Becky served as News Director for ‘SU TV News, the university’s first ever student-run newscast. She was also an anchor and reporter for the organization.   Before coming to WDAY, Becky was reporting for Lakeland Public Television at their Brainerd, MN bureau. She also spent internship hours at WDAZ in Grand Forks and KVRR Fox in Fargo.   If you have story ideas or questions, please e-mail Becky at bparker@wday.com
(701) 241-5322
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