CNN producers were left embarrassed when a story was put up on their site without being fact-checked.
The story, which was pulled on Monday, suggested that ‘all life could be extinguished in less than 30 years’ by a 10 mile-wide asteroid.
The erroneous date – March 35 – was something that sceptics picked up on first. However, this didn’t stop several major news outlets using the story, despite warnings that the news was ‘not vetted by CNN’.
CNN issued a correction and later took the user-generated post down – but not before the fake news went viral.
The ‘news’ received over 250,000 views and was shared 24,000 times on Facebook.
CNN replaced the article with a statement: ‘NASA has confirmed via email that this story is false. A spokeswoman for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the largest object detected by NEOWISE measures 3km in diameter and poses no risk to Earth. The iReport has been removed.’
Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee who runs the Nasa Watch blog, pointed out that the clues were there:
Cowing questioned: ‘March 35?’ and said ‘Love the tags: ‘bieber, war, gaming, stocks, science, cyrus, space, obama, earth, states.’