Sandy Floods Instagram

Hurricane Sandy -- you’ve heard of it -- has produced all the usual social media ephemera which accompany major events, including the obligatory Twitter parody accounts, narrated in suitably belligerent fashion. Meanwhile the powers that be are making admirable use of social media to keep the public updated about the monster storm, which some are calling (perhaps prematurely) the storm of the century.

But the killer -- um, let’s make that “really useful” -- app for Sandy may be Instagram, which has been flooded with hurricane-related photos, including images of people preparing for the hurricane and various extreme weather events, according to Poynter.org, which cited Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom.

Systrom told Poynter.org that as of earlier today, people were posting images tagged with the #sandy hashtag at a rate of 10 pictures per second, with more than 244,000 photos bearing that hashtag, and over 144,000 tagged #hurricanesandy (these numbers are probably a lot higher now).

Of course, as with any gripping event, some people feel the need to take it to the next level with fake images, some of which are simply repurposed photos of previous situations involving heavy weather, some of which are clearly doctored with varying degrees of expertise.

Among the more interesting repurposed shots noted by Mashable were photos of clouds looming low over the Manhattan skyline, in a dramatic photo first posted on the WSJ Web site last year; the Statue of Liberty apparently facing 100-foot-tall waves in a local news report, which turned out to be a doctored image lifted from the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”; and a military honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier enduring driving rain, which turned out to be from September.

None of this detracts from the power of real images of Sandy, which may well become the most-photographed weather event in history (at least until the next hurricane), thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets equipped with digital cameras. On that note, I was reminded of some trivia I learned earlier this month from Chas Edwards, head of publisher development and chief revenue officer for Luminate, who claimed that more photos have been taken in the last 12 months than in all human history.

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