A UFO hoax created by Mister Enigma, aka Robert Simmons of Wisconsin, was posted to YouTube on June 21, 2015 and subsequently featured by some larger news sites beginning June 25.
How this happened is difficult to understand; it featured nothing remarkable. It’s the type of thing you’ve seen from hoaxers before: footage from the ISS with a few tiny specks added in to make it look as if objects were exiting the Earth’s atmosphere. This was followed by the typical NASA “loss of signal” title card, suggesting we were seeing something forbidden. It’s a scenario so old, I’m surprised hoaxers still use it. In this case, it worked to spectacular effect from Mister Enigma’s point of view, as it’s been taken up by news sites worldwide.
As best I can determine, patient zero is Huffingtonpost.co.uk, who ran with the story on the 25th. Other news sites followed suit without doing the simplest bit of research, such as Googling “Mister Enigma hoax.” I guess it’s one of those oddball stories that’s too good to check.
This episode is a good illustration of what an echo chamber online news has become. If one of the larger news sites makes an error, that mistake will be repeated ad nauseam, possibly in perpetuity. I have been posting comments on every site pointing out this particular error, even tweeting directly to the articles’ authors, but I’ve not seen a correction yet.
Also repeated ad nauseam: my advice to check your sources. Not the source of the news story, but of the video it’s based on. Five minutes of effort by Huffingtonpost.co.uk could have averted this nonsense. Viral mistakes of this kind are an insult and a disservice to people who invest the time and equipment into recording real sightings, but even worse, the media attention directly supports the creation of more hoaxes.
If you need any background on Mister Enigma, check these links: