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A year-old Photoshopped picture of President Donald Trump trying to rescue a man from flood water has resurfaced in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
A Facebook post from 2017 featuring the image has hundreds of new comments and shares as users either laughed off the meme or flagged it as fake—in case that wasn’t obvious.
The doctored image shows Trump, dressed in a suit and tie, leaning out of a raft toward a stranded flood victim with what appears to be a “Make America Great Again” hat in hand.
A photoshopped picture depicting Trump rescuing people during Hurricane Florence has been shared 275,000 times on Facebook. The original is from Texas flooding in 2015. pic.twitter.com/woWuPuqSSy— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) September 24, 2018
In the original image, three rescuers with the Austin Fire Department are trying to save a man desperately holding on to fence and are doing so without Trump on board. Researchers at Snopes were able to source the original image to a CNN news report about flooding in Central Texas in 2015.
It first appeared as a Trump meme, however, after Hurricane Harvey last year. In the days following Hurricane Florence, the image has been circulated anew.
At least two Reddit users are claiming that their relatives and friends have shared the image believing it was real, but for the most part, it seems that users find it ridiculous or funny. Some are altering the image further to create other memes.
...and I thought this was real! 😉 pic.twitter.com/eFbtB0ZqQP— wajobu (@wajobu) September 24, 2018
This is the real photo. pic.twitter.com/BAjh6bUe8k— Kimberly Costello (@KimCostello) September 24, 2018
Still, some argue the meme’s resurfacing is representative of a wider fake news problem on social networks. New York Times writer Kevin Roose questioned whether Facebook should use the image fingerprinting algorithms it deploys against revenge porn to stamp out viral fake photos.
Facebook already uses image hashing/fingerprinting to prevent repeat uploads of e.g. revenge porn. Seems like it would be easy to prevent obviously fake photos from going viral.— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) September 24, 2018
There is a difference, though, between fake news designed to misinform and satire. The difference is in the intent, and ironic meme making is rendered dead without the freedom to share Photoshopped images. Imagine if Facebook were to become an even more humorless place than it already is.
Interestingly, since Roose’s tweet, the Facebook post with the Trump flood meme seems to have disappeared. The Daily Dot has reached out to Facebook and the user behind the post to try and find out more.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology.