Headline RoundupSeptember 5th, 2023

Burning Man Festival Flooding Sparks Rumors, Misinformation

Summary from the AllSides News Team

Flooding that left attendees of the Burning Man festival stranded in the Nevada desert over the weekend resulted in numerous rumors circulating online.

For Context: The Burning Man festival is an annual event held on a campsite located on the Black Rock Desert playa, an evaporated lake bed, around 150 miles north of Reno. Storms and flooding in the area caused road conditions to deteriorate on account of mud, leading officials to urge festival attendees to “shelter in place.” One person has reportedly died during what the Pershing County Sheriff's Office called a “rain event.”

Details: A post that circulated online over the weekend claimed that the “shelter in place” notice was in response to an Ebola outbreak at the festival. A doctored image of a supposed social media post from the CDC echoed this. Claims also circulated that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was at Burning Man in response to the supposed virus outbreak. The festival organizers stated Sunday, “The online rumors of transmissible illnesses in Black Rock City [the Burning Man festival site] are unfounded and untrue.” Additionally, FEMA spokesperson Jeremy Edwards stated, “No FEMA personnel or assets have been deployed to the Burning Man festival and there are no requests from local or state authorities for our assistance.”

How the Media Covered It: The chaos at the Burning Man festival was a top story across the spectrum and on social media over the weekend. The false claims spread on social media and were refuted in outlets.

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