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NASA Takes the Time to Debunk Anonymous YouTube Clickbait

Accepted submission by takyon at 2017-06-27 18:19:45

The Washington Post reports []:

The headlines sound thrilling. One might say they bait a click.


"The world's biggest hacking group thinks NASA is about to announce alien life." — the Independent []

Maybe you know of Anonymous as a band of socially enlightened hackers: liberators of knowledge from elites who want to hide it from the public. You certainly know what NASA is. So you click []. And what you get, if you follow the articles to the amateur YouTube channel that is their source, is video of a man in a Guy Fawkes mask — "Anonymous Global," he calls himself — reading out old quotes from NASA spokespeople in a spooky, synthesized voice.

The man in the anarchist mask quotes a NASA science director's testimony from a congressional hearing in April [], all totally public: "We are on the verge of making one of the most profound, unprecedented discoveries in history."

That quote — taken out of context and adorned with Anonymous Global's wild conspiracy theorizing — became the basis for millions of views and countless news articles, forcing the science director in question and NASA officials to explicitly deny the claims of a shoddily produced YouTube video this week. "There's no pending announcement regarding extraterrestrial life," a NASA spokesman wrote to The Washington Post, in case you were still in doubt.

Also at [], MassLive [], the San Diego Union-Tribune [], and The Guardian [] (editorial).

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