Recently a story swept through the Internet reporting that Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, was receiving asylum in Venezuela. It also revealed that he had information on the reality of UFO visitations and cover-ups. In an article that was widely repeated, it was reported that Snowden claimed to have documents that showed that the US government is hiding evidence of alien visits to Earth. He is quoted as saying that the extraterrestrials were so far technologically ahead of human beings that there was virtually no chance of the people of Earth surviving a war against the aliens. He even was quoted as saying that President Obama received daily briefings on the activities of extraterrestrials.
Given all that Snowden had revealed, many websites immediately reposted the article or repeated the information. The problem was that the information was completely false. It is, of course, possible for anyone to fall for a well-orchestrated hoax. One of the great problems with the study of unidentified flying saucers is that there are often hoaxes as well as honest mistakes. Some hoaxes are perpetrated by people looking for a bit of fame or attempting to embarrass the people that believe their claims. Even worse, some false events are deliberately planned attempts to spread misinformation by the government (such as the hoax involving Paul Bennewitz). The Snowden story, though, was not a well-orchestrated government plot to spread misinformation or even a particularly good hoax. The original site reporting the story (The Internet Chronicle, http://www.chronicle.su/news/snowden-reveals-ufo-documents-after-receiving-asylum-in-venezuela/comment-page-1/ EXPLICIT CONTENT) is a “satire site” and virtually always has several demonstrably false stories, such as the death of Selena Gomez, listed on their homepage. In fact, this site was the source of the recent widely reported fake report of the death of television personality Austin “Chumlee” Russell (Pawn Stars) due to a marijuana overdose. The Snowden story also had a completely unconnected picture published with it and, worst of all, carried a byline of “Kilgoar” instead of a reporter’s real name. A careful editorial eye should have immediately questioned the story but many websites published the Snowden UFO hoax.
Several sites that are dedicated to UFO news or at least frequently report UFO related stories still have the obviously false story posted. UFO Casebook, for example, still carries their original coverage without comment (http://www.ufocasebook.com/2013/snowdenufos.html). Before It’s News also has the fake Snowden story up (http://beforeitsnews.com/paranormal/2013/07/snowden-reveals-ufo-documents-2453888.html) without any reference to it being fake. UFO Digest also still has the story posted (http://www.ufodigest.com/article/snowden-reveals-ufo-documents-0706), but has since realized that it is a hoax. A note by the poster has been added, admitted that he had been fooled. Parational.com deserves credit for reporting the story but immediately stating that they did not find it credible (http://pararational.com/edward-snowden-ufo-obama-reptilian/) and pointing out the obviously false stories found on The Internet Chronicle.
I realize that it is difficult to maintain a timely website, continually find content of interest to the readers and attempt to stay ahead of competitors. I also understand that people make mistakes. I have made them myself (in fact, after misidentifying an actor in the first episode of the movie podcast I used to host, a running text commentary correcting and ridiculing my co-host and me became a regular feature). However, I feel that I must point out how irresponsible and damaging to the UFO community it was to have reported this fake story as fact. Even worse is the fact that it continues to be reported as fact on some websites even after it has been thoroughly discredited.
The UFO field is constantly under assault by those looking to discredit it. Reporting on a very easy to disprove story as if it was fact makes it very easy to discredit a site. Worse yet, it allows debunkers and critics to paint the entire field with a broad brush and infer that everyone in the UFO community is a gullible, wide-eyed believer. The fact that such an example is not limited to a single site but gives a debunker several sites to list only makes their arguments appear legitimate. It also lends credence to assertions that research in the UFO field is unprofessional and slipshod. Although it is unfair to characterize all UFO researchers and websites in this manner, it is certainly hard to defend the offending websites when they cannot be bothered to correct the story and admit their mistake. This proves that these offending websites are not properly researching or correcting their stories also brings into question all of the information they have ever presented.
Even worse is the possibility that the repeated falsehood of today will become someone’s gospel tomorrow. In a few months or years (if not already), people legitimately interested in the Snowden NSA leak or searching for information on the United States government and UFOs will find these uncorrected articles presenting this hoax as fact. The original source may not be available any longer or not as easily found and this future reader may take the story to be legitimate but suppressed news. It could be repeated and retold until it becomes the next generation’s “Dulce underground bases.” A simple clarification to the story could avoid this and yet many of the websites cannot be bothered.