Have you seen a video purporting to show New Yorkers shopping at a grocery store that was flooded on Friday? It’s gone viral on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. But the video is actually from New Zealand.
The video was shared on X early Saturday by an account called X News Monitor with the caption: “#USA – People grocery shopping in knee high water during the apocalyptic flooding in New York City today.”
The video also included hashtags that allowed people who were searching for news about the floods in New York to find it, including: #NewYorkFlood, #NYC, #flood and #WeatherAlert.
But the video was actually captured in New Zealand back in January. The original video was shared on TikTok and YouTube, where it’s identified as flooding at a Pak N Save grocery store in the Wairau Valley of New Zealand. At least three people died in the flooding near Auckland earlier this year.
And while this video is being misrepresented, the flooding in New York has indeed been terrible. An incredible 8.67 inches of rain fell at JFK International Airport and 5.86 inches fell in Central Park, according to ABC News. Authentic videos depicting the flooding have gone viral, including many from the subway system, even though this one is actually from New Zealand.
The X News Monitor account appears to aggregate videos from around the internet and has a blue check mark, a symbol that used to mean a given user on Twitter had their identity verified. But when Elon Musk bought the site he got rid of the old verification program, allowing anyone with $8 to buy a check mark.
The new “verification” system, which doesn’t actually verify anybody, has allowed X to become a hotbed of misinformation, often drowning out real reporting from the ground. Recently, blue check mark accounts have falsely claimed there was an Ebola outbreak at Burning Man, that average citizens captured video of an F-35 fighter jet crashing in South Carolina and that New Zealand’s former Prime Minister was harmed by the covid-19 vaccine.
Musk has not plans to change the $8 verification system. In fact, Musk has said he’d like to make every user on the platform pay to use X. The billionaire insists this will help get rid of bots, which plague the platform, but the reasoning doesn’t seem to make sense. People who operate bots are typically running scams to dupe people out of money, meaning they have a financial incentive to buy verification and would happily pay to use the site if it means they can continue trying to swindle people out of their cash. The average user, on the other hand, is unlikely to spend money for a social media service when all of its competitors are free.
But who knows? Maybe Musk is on to something that the rest of the experts can’t see. Only time will tell.