Internet Hoax: Six Days of Darkness
One of the great things about the digital age or internet or social media is the speed at which all information travels across the world. Unfortunately, Internet’s downside is also the same thing. Since all sensational information travels like forest fire, there is so much fake stuff on internet, created by gleefully mis-leading attention seekers. One of the false news that was recurrently though the social media space was the report proclaiming: “NASA confirms Earth will experience six days of total darkness in December 2014”.
The fake news was first published by Huzlers.com (calls itself a satirical news website). However, the ‘Days of Darkness’ is in itself an old story. ‘Three days of darkness’, is a sort of prophecy within Roman Catholicism, which sort of parallels the ‘Ten Plagues’ against Egypt — mentioned in the ‘Book of Exodus’. Now, the Huzlers have taken it two steps further, by making six days and then alleging that it’s confirmed by NASA.
The fake news site also dedicated a website, and the story said that solar storms will bring plentiful dust and debris in Earth’s path, blocking 90 percent sunlight. The proclaimed days of darkness was alleged to take place from Dec. 16 to 22. They also drew in numerous Facebook and Twitter users, and encouraged them to post about their routine during the six days of darkness. Hastags like #6DaysofDarkness and #Daysofdarkness went viral. Millions of shares went across the social media.
The funny things is that the fake news creators used credible sounding sources such as the clip of NASA chief Charles Boden, who was taking about the emergency measures. Actually, he was advising how people should act in the face of real natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes.
Scientifically, it is important to realize that solar storms don’t hide out sun for days. Solar storms are generally caused by fluctuations in the sun’s magnetic field. Usually, the solar storms create a little damage to Earth’s magnetosphere. Powerful solar storms have been very rare and even those could only knock out Earth’s electrical equipments. These storms couldn’t be compared with terrestrial storms where the dust and dirt enshrouds a landscape.
Many newspapers including ‘Times of India’ and NASA have now confirmed that ‘days of darkness’ is baseless rumor. Other ridiculous and ill-mannered fake news from ‘Huzlers’ in the past were: ‘Ebola victims rose from the dead’, ‘McDonalds uses human meat’, ‘semen is found in Starbucks drinks’ etc.