Instagram grabs spotlight for US storm pictures

Instagram, the photo-sharing app recently acquired by Facebook, came into the limelight this week as a key source for pictures showing the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

A man takes a picture of the storm with his phone from the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, on October 29, 2012 as Hurricane Sandy nears landfall in the area.

Photos of the storm were popping up on many social networks including Twitter and Google+, but Instagram data showed at least 521,000 photos with the hashtag Sandy.

Another 306,000 were tagged #hurricaneSandy and 39,000 tagged #Frankenstorm.

Jeff Sonderman, a digital media fellow at The Poynter Institute, said that at one point Instagram was posting 10 pictures of the storm per second.

"Natural disasters and tragedies are emerging as a way for social media services to gain respect and legitimacy as world-changing agents as well," he said.

"You can see why a national disaster as told through Instagram could be powerful. In theory, Instagram has Twitter's immediacy, and a broader reach, since it pushes notices out via Twitter, Facebook, Instgram's own network, and email. Clearly images are the best way to tell a story like this, and Instagram's whole raison d'etre is to make people better photographers."

On Twitter, some 147,000 pictures were posted over a 24-hour period tagged Sandy.

Some of the pictures, however, were fakes. A Tumblr page sought to keep track of the obvious and less-obvious bogus photos as "a public service."

One dramatic shot of the New York skyline was "actually a picture from 2011, of a thunderstorm over Manhattan during a tornado alert," said the Tumblr blog author identified as @flashboy.

Facebook completed its acquisition of Instagram in September. The original price was pegged at $1 billion but the final value was less because of the decline in Facebook's share price.

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Writer: AFP Relax News
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