Video has gone viral on social media over the past two days, claiming that the wildfires in Canada that have caused serious air quality issues in the U.S. were part of a “set up” or conspiracy. But claims around the video are very misleading about what’s actually happening.
The original video, which is available on YouTube, was published on June 4 by wildfire experts in British Columbia, the Canadian province on the west coast just north of Washington state.
Videos published to Twitter and TikTok have taken this footage and you can hear shouting from unseen people in a room insisting it proves there’s a “set-up” and that the crisis over the past week has been “fake.” Conspiracy theorists have floated the idea repeatedly ever since bad smoke inundated the northeast this week, creating an almost apocalyptic view in New York and other big American cities in the region.
The viral video doesn’t allow people to listen to the audio from the original video, which features an explanation about how this tactic is used to fight the larger fires by creating a stop-gap where the fire can’t continue to spread. Mike Morrow, an ignition specialist in British Columbia, explained that the process was all about saving lives and property.
“What we’re doing is we’re taking the fuels out on our terms rather than letting Mother Nature guide the project, Morrow explains.
One of the reasons the disinformation was allowed to spread might have involved the fact that Bloomberg shared the video without any audio commentary on its own YouTube page. By stripping out the explanation, it just looks like the wildfire service might actually be starting fires that got out of hand.
As the Associated Press notes, these kinds of videos have previously been used by conspiracy theorists to spread disinformation.
In fact, some high-profile people on social media also insist that space lasers are being used by the Chinese government to start the fires that have been spreading in Canada. General Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor, tried to get the attention of Twitter owner Elon Musk on Friday.
“@elonmusk really good question by @briangamble_v1 worthy of an answer. Even if a snarky drop dead answer. The fires and follow on smoke and dark skies have been severe pretty much down half the east coast of the U.S. what say you?” Flynn tweeted on Friday night in response to a tweet about the fires being started by Chinese weapons.
The idea of space lasers being used to start wildfires in North America first came to mainstream America’s attention in 2021 after a Facebook post by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene resurfaced alleging California’s fires in 2018 were tied to the Rothschilds, a family often cited by anti-semitic conspiracy theorists. And while Greene never actually used the term “Jewish space lasers,” an internet meme was born.
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