A hoax CNN iReport which claimed that an asteroid headed towards Earth had a 50% chance of catastrophically colliding with our planet in the year 2041 has been taken down after it terrified some members of the public.
“Citizen journalism”, such as iReport, may seem a reasonable concept at first glance; however, you’d probably quickly change your mind when you find out that the articles can be uploaded unedited and unchecked for factual errors. This is a tad risky since many readers have a habit of skimming articles without thinking to check whether what is being reported is correct, so they can quickly become a nuisance.
A user named Marcus575 cottoned onto this and decided to upload a piece which went as follows:
Using their Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), the 10-mile wide object was found approximately 51 million miles from Earth. Scientists believe that during a close encounter with Mars, the asteroid was nudged slightly off its usual orbit and may currently be on a high speed collision course with our fragile planet. The asteroid is calculated to have a potentially lethal encounter with the Earth on March 35, 2041.
Astronomers have placed the odds of an impact at 1 in 2.04, which is by far the most unprecedented risk ever faced to humanity, let alone from asteroids. Such an impact could potentially end civilization as we know it.
For those of you that missed this part, the date given was March 35. Justin Beiber and Miley Cyrus were also tagged in the piece. The article was viewed 230,000 times and shared 23,000 times over the course of 24 hours before it was taken down. This is what it looked like:
Ok, so it is a little bit funny, but it’s certainly another example of why you should read things on the internet thoroughly before reacting!
Hat tip io9