• Rumors of nationwide blackouts cause mass hysteria on social media


    A government drill is causing panic across social media.

    If you’ve been on any type of social media today, there’s a chance you saw something about an EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) test happening this weekend. At our station alone, we’ve received dozens of calls and messages from concerned viewers asking about the test.

    People on social media claim the test will cause a massive power outage and disrupt communications across the country.


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    FOX13 spoke with the Department of Defense about the test today. The DOD confirmed it is running a “mock” drill, simulating what would happen if the nation’s communication systems failed.

    The National Association for Amateur Radio said the DOD will conduct a communications training exercise Saturday through Monday, and it will simulate “a very bad day.”

    People we spoke to said they heard different things about the “blackout.” One person said they were told phones wouldn’t work and cars wouldn’t start.

    However, Army representatives and HAM Radio operators said there is no reason to panic. In fact, we later learned a simple typo led to the entire mess.

    One possible source of the confusion was a video posted on social media by Shantelle McBride. In the video, the Michigan woman says the DOD will shut down the power grid from coast to coast this weekend.

    The video appeared to be removed from Facebook for a period of time, but now it is back. It has been viewed more than 5 million times and shared more than 90,000 times.

    The women have since gone on social media again to defend themselves and their message.

    FOX13 found another potential source of confusion in a press release from the National Association for Amateur Radio

    It read:

    “This exercise will begin with a national massive coronal mass injection event which will impact that national power grid as well as all forms of traditional communication, including landline telephone, cellphone, satellite, and internet connectivity.”

    In the release, the word “national” was mis-typed. The word should have been “notional.” The words means “existing only in theory,” which changes the entire context of the press release.

    Less than an hour after we alerted the National Association for Amateur Radio, they corrected their website and press release.

    There were also rumors that the drill had some sort of relation to "Antifa" demonstrations, but Snopes debunked that theory.

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    Rumors of nationwide blackouts cause mass hysteria on social media