No, There’s Not An Ebola Outbreak At Burning Man

Festival-goers at Burning Man in the Nevada desert are currently struggling with severe mud after storms flooded the event, forcing organizers to close the only road in and out. But those dire conditions have caused a lot of misinformation to start cropping up on social media. In fact, some people claim an Ebola outbreak has started at Burning Man. But it’s simply not true.

The rumors about an Ebola outbreak started Saturday on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. X has a crowdsourced method of fact-checking misinformation on the site known as Community Notes, but none of the tweets I’ve seen so far on Saturday have received notes.

At least two accounts have shared a fake screenshot from the CDC about the fake Ebola outbreak at Burning Man, with one verified user claiming the CDC sent and deleted the tweet below. However, there’s no evidence that the CDC tweeted out anything about Ebola at Black Rock City.

X no longer verifies the identity of anyone with a blue check mark, a feature that used to help weed out misinformation on the site. But after Elon Musk bought the platform, he got rid of the legacy verification system and now allows anyone with $8 to buy a check mark.

Another X user claimed to be at Burning Man on Saturday and insisted they tested positive for Ebola. But it’s pretty clear from the responses to the tweet that they’re joking.

Other accounts have spread misinformation about a quarantine zone being set up at Burning Man. The account also falsely claimed aircraft were heading to the region as part of a blockade.

Again, there’s no evidence that anyone at Burning Man has contracted Ebola. But that doesn’t mean people at Burning Man aren’t struggling. Festival organizers have told attendees to conserve food and water, given the muddy situation. Burning Man takes place in the middle of nowhere, which means that everyone need to be self-reliant in a way that can make things challenging. There’s no simply running to the local drug store for supplies or leaving to a nearby hotel when weather is bad.

An estimated 70,000 people are stuck at Burning Man right now, with more rain expected in the region tonight. And the rain that’s happened over the past couple of days has been the kind of levels that part of the desert sees for as much as three months, according to CNN.

Stay safe out there. And don’t listen to misinformation on X. Things might be tough right now for people at Burning Man, but there aren’t any fire tornadoes and there’s no Ebola outbreak.


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