Time Falls for Fake NYC Tornado Photo

Magazine’s blog posts image of twister that tore up the Internet

A brief storm that spawned a possible tornado swept through Brooklyn — and Twitter — on Thursday, causing at least one death and millions of dollars in Flickr-worthy damage.

It also caused Time magazine to briefly lose its reportorial mind.

A photo that supposedly showed the tornado as it was crossing the water near the Statue of Liberty, shortly before hitting the borough, began circulating on Twitter.

Time posted the photo — nabbed from a Twitter user — on its newsfeed blog (which purports to showcase "What's Vital and Viral on the Web, in Real Time") under the headline "Gotham Tornado: Amazing Photo of Twister Passing Statue of Liberty."

"It's a freak event, a tornado in the heart of New York City," Steven James Snyder wrote on Time's blog. "The image above may be once in a lifetime."

Snyder was right about that. The image was a real, once-in-a-lifetime photo. The problem is … it was taken in 1976, apparently lifted from the NOAA website.

(For what it's worth, my gut reaction was to call "bull—-" on the rapidly growing meme; not boasting here, as I've been known to drink the Twitter-mixed Kool Aid, too — just proving that this wasn't a second-guess.)

Time eventually corrected the post: “Since this story first posted, it has come to our attention that the image shown above is from 1976."

It's a cautionary tale is blind faith, a rush to corral page views — and proof that even a publication with deep resources like Time can be duped by the Twitterati.