Most Read

Top stories


Conspiracy Theory About 'Ebola Outbreak' At Burning Man Gets Shut Down

A theory that a deadly Ebola virus outbreak spread through Burning Man festivalgoers in Nevada was quickly debunked on X.

Burning Man
Kathy Baird/The Washington Post via Getty Images

By all accounts, this year's Burning Man festival has been an unmitigated disaster after torrential downpours flooded the venue in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, turning it into an inescapable mud pit.

And then came the Ebola outbreak. Well, not really, but there sure are a lot of people who think there is an outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever virus.

So many people are convinced the rumor is true, in fact, that it's become a full-fledged conspiracy theory.

The disastrous storms in the Black Rock Desert stranded 72,000 people in ankle-deep muck that, because of its mineral composition, turns into a stick clay that accumulates on feet and wheels the more you try to get out of it.

As often happens in harrowing situations like this, rumors began to swirl—and it wasn't long before an Ebola breakout was among those rumors.

Falsified tweets seeming to come from the event's organizers suddenly appeared September 1, issuing an ominous warning to all attendees.

The tweet read:

"For anyone who attended Burning Man, we unfortunately have to share with you that an attendee has contracted ebola."
"We apologize for the inconvenience, and we urge you to get checked."

The rumor went a giant step further when another falsified tweet, purporting to be from the Centers for Disease Control, also appeared.

The fake tweet came complete with infographics with emergency procedures and an urgent recommendation that all Burning Man attendees "remain in their dwellings until further notice" to avoid the supposed pathogen.

Then, the rumor took a truly conspiratorial turn when podcasters TrueAnon tweeted that the disastrous situation with the mud and muck was actually a cover-up for the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

The situation became more hectic when a death was reported at the event. Most Burning Man years have a few deaths due to dehydration, overdoses, or other dangers of partying for days on end in a desert. But given the rumors about Ebola, the death made things seem all the more ominous.

Federal authorities have since gone on to debunk the rumors. The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the desert site, has issued a statement kiboshing the rumor, as did the Centers for Disease Control, who said they've received "no reports" of Ebola or any other virus circulating at the event.

On social media, many people couldn't believe this Ebola conspiracy theory went as far as it did.

And, of course, there were plenty of jokes, too.

Despite the jokes and debunking, the conspiracy theory is still going strong with people on X (formerly Twitter) claiming the news will drop any day that Ebola made it out of the desert and into the general population. Stay tuned, or whatever. *eyeroll*