In July 2021, millions of viewers watched a short video clip that appeared to show a tornado passing dangerously close to a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
The remarkable footage was posted to the video-sharing platform TikTok, on July 3, by a user with the handle @gmoney1289. As of July 8, it had more than 14 million views. It was also reposted to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
In reality, the video was fake, and the result of digital editing by its creator, Greg Pietrantonio. Those who viewed it on TikTok would have more readily seen the other videos posted by that account, which contained clues that the “Phillies Tornado” clip was bogus. Pietrantonio regularly posts similar fake videos of tornadoes, meteor strikes, and extra-terrestrial activity — all created using the same digital editing tricks:
However, those who saw the clip on other platforms, stripped from its original context, would have had fewer immediate hints that it was the result of visual effects, rather than an authentic record of an extreme weather event in South Philadelphia.
In an email, Pietrantonio told Snopes the “Phillies tornado” clip was “the result of some VFX [visual effects] and video editing using Adobe After Effects.” Pietrantonio, who lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, said he filmed the raw footage of Citizens Bank Park himself while attending a Phillies game, and added the special effects later.
He told Snopes video editing was a hobby with no connection to his career, but had garnered him an audience on TikTok, where his videos have been viewed many millions of times, and he has more than 500,000 followers.