Over more than a century of aliens in cinema, we’ve seen Earth’s first encounter with extraterrestrials imagined in a myriad of ways. Would humanity be forced into an intergalactic war, like in Independence Day? Would it happen after a watershed technological advance, like in Star Trek: First Contact? Or would it be more like… you know… the final scene of Superbad, where everyone is just kinda hanging out in the mall, shopping for pants?
Turns out – if you believe strangers on the internet, that is – it’s that last one. According to a brand-new conspiracy theory circulating the fringier edges of social media, aliens are among us – and they’re apparently indulging in the January sales.
“10[-foot] Aliens/Creatures (caught on camera?) fired at inside and outside Miami Mall,” claimed one post on X, formerly known as Twitter, early Friday morning.
“[M]edia silent,” the pseudonymous account continued, “cops are covering it up saying kids were fighting with fireworks, yet all these cop cars, & air traffic stopped that night except for black military choppers…and no media coverage.”
Could it be true? Well, despite your likely first instinct being to roll your eyes and mutter something about the internet being full of ill-informed people who’ll believe anything, there is at least some truth to this claim.
Not the aliens bit, obviously. Just the bit where it says that the police had responded to an incident involving rowdy teens outside a Miami strip mall.
As seen in the footage circulating online, cops arrived at the scene “for crowd control due to… juveniles refusing to leave,” Miami Police Department public information officer Michael Vega told NBC News. “Some businesses were temporarily closed to allow us to clear the area.”
“There were no aliens,” he added. “No airports were closed. Nothing is being withheld from the public. LOL.”
So where on Earth did “aliens” come from? Part of the supposed “evidence” for the claim was in the seemingly outsized police presence, with footage from the scene showing dozens of cruisers parked up and down the street outside the mall – quite a lot of manpower if all you’re facing is a few adolescent loiterers.
But it makes a little more sense when you read the details of the incident: roughly 50 people, according to police, brawling and setting off fireworks in a country that saw more mass shootings than days ending in a “y” last year.
The real tinfoil-hat stuff, though, came when people started claiming that the footage showed huge shadowy gray figures moving about near the police cars. Other accounts popped up, claiming to be eyewitnesses to these otherworldly beings, and within hours of the rumor’s inception, things had already escalated enough for the Miami Police Department to release an official statement denying the extraterrestrial claims.
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And the truth, it turns out, couldn’t be more “nothing” if it tried.
“What is seen on this clip is the shadow of someone walking,” Miami PD told TMZ. “If you look at the bottom of the shadow, you can see the person. No creature.”
Another video of the “aliens” has slightly more substance – in that it shows some police officers, rather than their shadows. But overall, there’s no evidence of interplanetary visitors to a Miami strip mall.
Not that that’s quelled the rumors. Despite Elon Musk’s early claims that Twitter should become “by far the most accurate source of information about the world,” since his takeover and rebrand of the site, accounts posting misinformation have seen a massive increase in engagement compared to other users.
It’s a problem that seems to go all the way to the top, in fact, as Musk has notably used his own site to promote such conspiracy theories as Birds Aren’t Real (amusing, not dangerous) and Pizzagate (not funny, very dangerous).
And in this case, it looks like we’re somewhere in between those two extremes. While some of the posts across X and other platforms do appear to be sincere, most are parodic or trolling. Nevertheless, the conspiracy has been seen millions of times at this point, and people are already coming up with explanations for the lack of literally any evidence of ET in FL.
And listen: if any aliens are out there reading this, we have some advice for you. When it comes to first contact, don’t go to Florida. With all the wild shenanigans that go on down there, you wouldn’t even make the evening news.