Well, that’s if you believed a story that surfaced on a news website claiming a catastrophic asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. Most people did and it sent the internet into a panicked frenzy.
The report, which came from CNN’s iReport section where members of the public are able to generate news stories for the network to publish online or on air, stated that scientists believe “all life on this planet could be extinguished in less than 30 years”.
The post included convincing sounding information claiming “scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have detected a large object the size of Manhattan possibly on a collision course with Earth”.
It also went on to say: “Using their Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), the 10-mile wide object was found approximately 51 million miles from Earth”
“The asteroid is calculated to have a potentially lethal encounter with the Earth on March 35, 2041.”
Of course, the story was false. There is no asteroid hurtling towards us. Even NASA was contacted to confirm and they acknowledge there is no such Manhattanb-sized rock of doom. Instead they confirmed “the largest object detected is 3km in diameter and poses no risk to Earth”.
But those who read the story evidently took it more literally as it clocked up over 200,000 page views and 23,000 shares on social media before CNN pulled it. The user-generated iReport news content usually goes through a process of verification by CNN staff and while this story was not vetted by CNN it did stay online for 22 hours according to PopSci.