After a news story was released on a CNN network feed blared “Giant Asteroid Possibly on Collision Course With Earth,” it was sure to garner attention. After the article was read by more than 233,000 and over 23,000 shared the story on social media, CNN removed the story from their website because it was fake, according to a report.
10 mile-wide asteroid headed to destroy earth in 2041 proved false
The CNN article as originally posted claimed that “Using their Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), the 10-mile wide object was found approximately 51 million miles from Earth” and that impact would occur March, 2041, “ending civilization as we know it.”
NASA debunks story
After seeing it, NASA Watch was the first official organization to contact CNN and refute the story. The story, which was published on the network’s iReport system, where the general public can submit news. In a note on their website, CNN said “NASA has confirmed via email that this story is false. A spokeswoman for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory says that the largest object detected by NEOWISE measures 3 km in diameter and poses no risk to Earth. The iReport has been removed.”
CNN not alone
This isn’t the first time such mistakes have been made on CNN and elsewhere. In 2012 CNN erroneously reported the Supreme Court had struck down the individual mandate to purchase health insurance through what has now become “Obamacare,” spreading the word on TV, the Internet and Twitter as the same error was repeated by Fox News. In March of 2013, the Pope Francis was ordained CNN said the Pontiff was the first to be born outside Europe, which was inaccurate. Last summer, Bloomberg reported that Goldman Sachs Fab Tourre was cleared of charges when in fact he the fall for the investment bank’s credit default swaps.
As citizen journalism makes inroads into a larger world, the issue could be story checking. When a story claims the world is ending, a little editorial discretion might do well to come into play in a story of such significance when compared to less important stories on a regional or local basis, the report noted.
As a result of the story no doubt many people were left shaken, but it also provided several laughs around the world, the report noted.