A Day in the Alien Life of a Fake News Story

A story about Alien Life currently making the rounds online, is a perfect example of how gullible the media is to fake news.
 
If you were following last weeks news you could be forgiven for thinking the notorious hacktivist network Anonymous, committed to the public good, had leaked secret information about an upcoming announcement from NASA’s that we are not alone in the Universe. “The World’s Biggest Hacking Group Thinks NASA is About to Announce Alien Life” declared the Independent, “Hacker Collective Anonymous Releases Video Claiming That NASA is on the Verge of Announcing Alien Life” claimed the Daily Mail, “Hacktivist Group Says NASA Could Soon Reveal Alien Life” said the Daily Mirror. “Close Encounter? Hacking Group Anonymous Claims NASA is About to Announce ‘Evidence of Alien Life‘” was the how the Sun put it. Newsweek was a little more skeptical but still ran with the story stating “Anonymous Says NASA Has Evidence of Alien Life. Does it?” Even the Huffington Post ran “Hackers Claim NASA is About to Reveal They’ve Already Found Alien Life.”  
 
Here’s the problem, not only is the story about Aliens bogus, but so are the website and YouTube account claiming to belong to Anonymous. The source of the story is a video uploaded to the YouTube channel “Anonymous Global” on June 20th. Though the video has already gained over a half million views, even a quick glance at the YouTube channel would raise red flags about the uploader, most notably the most prominently displayed video is a pro-Trump fan video that condemns the media for it’s criticism of the American president. While Anonymous hacktivists are known for many things but slickly produced pro Trump propaganda isn’t one of them. A cursory examination of the “Anonymous” website that was referred to in the Independent piece, anonews.co, turns up a whole plethora of headlines and links that seem more at home on infowars than on a liberal hacktivist site.
“New Alien Mummy Discovered in Peru Near Nazca Lines?”
“Watch Putin Explain How the Deep State Controls the U.S. Government”
“This is The “Persian Hulk” Who Wants to Fight ISIS”
“Senate Bill to Force Citizens to Register Cash Not in a Bank, Violators Get 10 Years in Prison”
“Katy Perry Collapses As Mk-Ultra Mind Control Breakdown Goes Viral”
“Vladimir Putin Warns U.S. – Russia Nuclear War Would Leave No Survivors”
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the story of well meaning, Trump and Putin-loving hacktivists leaking a video about NASA’s imminent announcement of Alien life was covered by the the State sponsored Russia Today before somehow making it into the British tabloids the next day. Another video from the “Anonymous Global” YouTube channel wants to make it clear that Donald Trump is innocent of any collusion with Russia and the hacker group is sick of how badly the media has treated it’s beloved President.
“By now anyone who actually believes that President Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election is delusional… the narrative has been disproven and has wasted time and money, all in the pursuit of a fantasy story that is continuously pushed by the fake news media it seems that liberals are slowly starting tot realize that their ridiculous obsession with russia is starting to anger americans and some as slowly bringing to acknowledge that it was fake news all along. The lying fake news media and democrat officials who have relentlessly pushed lies about president trump should be held accountable for the impact their agenda has had in America.”
 
Most interestingly it turns out the notorious “alien life” video is simply a collection of excerpts from an article on the Croatian registered website “ancient code” which in turn had misrepresented comments made by Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, during a very public hearing in front of the House Committee on Science and Technology. Zurbuchen himself addressed the distortions on twitter “contrary to some reports, there’s no pending announcement from NASA regarding extraterrestrial life.”
 
This incident is a perfect example of how outright lies and half truths blend to help a fake news story go viral. At least one Twitter account known to be associated with the actual Anonymous hacker collective has already tweeted mockery of the Alien life claims.
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