UPDATE, SUNDAY AM: A tweet by The Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) that threatened Area 51 trespassers with a stealth bomber has been hastily deleted and an apology issued.
The DVIDS tweet indicated that anyone in search of “them aliens” that breached security at the base would be fired upon. “The last thing #millennials will see if they attempt the #area51 raid,” the DVIDS Twitter page posted Friday, along with a picture of a group of soldiers standing in front of the bomber.
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The resulting uproar at the threat caused a recall of the tweet.
“Last night a DVIDSHUB employee posted a Tweet that in NO WAY supports the stance of the Department of Defense,” said the apology. “It was inappropriate and we apologize for this mistake,’ the DoD said on Saturday.
The stealth bomber tweet is similar to a New Year’s Eve joke that backfired by the US Strategic Command. On its official Twitter account, the military branch posted a video juxtaposing New Year’s Eve’s annual Times Square ball drop with their own stealth bombers and their nuclear capability.
The tweet noted, “If ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger.” An accompanying video in the tweet cuts to a shot of a stealth fighter jet dropping what appear to be two thermonuclear bombs.
That led to a quick apology and deleted tweet and video. Note to military social media managers: bombing is never funny.
The Area 51 threats came as the much-touted “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us'” event petered out. Predictions that 50,000 people would show up in the restricted desert area proved false, and reports indicated anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people actually attended the events in the area.
An estimated 75 showed up on at the back gate of Area 51 on Friday morning for the “raid,” which originally planned to storm the base using the famed “Naruto Run,” and finally discover whether alien technology or possible live aliens were housed there.
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel was among the event’s mockers. He showed a Photoshopped image that showed him standing in front of the Area 51 gates wearing a tin-foil hat and brandishing a pizza.
A total of five people were arrested for various minor incidents surrounding the events. Nevada officials claimed preparations for the anticipated huge crowds resulted in costs of $250,000.
UPDATE: News services report several thousand people have shown up at the “Storm Area 51” celebration in the Nevada desert. Three people were arrested Friday for trespassing on the restricted military base, bringing the total detained to five since Thursday for the Alienstock and Area 51 Basecamp events. The gatherings are being held in the small desert towns of Rachel and Hiko.
Several minor injuries were reported, including a man treated for dehydration in Rachel.
EARLIER: The “Storm Area 51” joke started on Facebook may be getting out of hand. The event, originally started as a social media prank, has now mushroomed into an event that is straining resources in the tiny town of Rachel, Nevada, so much so that state and local authorities are consider legal action against the social media giant.
The original “Storm Area 51” group on Facebook was borne out of a long-time conspiracy theory that the military base houses alien technology, or possibly even captured aliens. The federal government has warned potential trespassers that it will defend against any attempt to storm the base.
Gizmodo reports that local Nevada authorities are worried that thousands of people may overwhelm the area’s resources, which are minimal. So far, they claim $250,000 has been spent preparing for the potential influx caused by the Facebook group, “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.”
The group’s organizer, Matty Roberts, earlier withdrew from the Rachel event, dubbed “Alienstock,” citing fears of a potential “humanitarian disaster” on the order of the ill-fated Fyre Festival, which promised much and delivered next to nothing. Instead, he urged followers to go to an event called the “Area 51 Celebration,” being held at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.
Crowds are already gathering for the Rachel event, which is running today through Sunday at the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel, located near the Area 51 base.
Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee told Gizmodo that the A’Le’Inn gathering has him worried. “I’m not happy about it because you’re looking at a county that does not have a lot of financial resources and this could potentially cost the county. The county could still be spending upwards of a quarter of a million dollars and that’s not including the salaries of all these 300-plus first responders that are coming here.”
He also threatened to drag Roberts into any legal action.
“Matty Roberts is the one that started this on Facebook. So our district attorney, his opinion is that Matty Roberts and Facebook stand to be partially to blame for this” Lee told Gizmodo. “He’s already told people that this is quote-unquote ‘His event.’ He told some of the other event promoters that this was his event. And so I guess if it’s his event and he’s taken ownership of it then we know where legal action should go toward. I’m not an attorney but that is what Lincoln County district attorney is saying.”
Event producers have pointed out that local authorities gave them a permit for the Rachel event.
Roberts spoke to Nevada’s KLAS-TV via video call in August and expressed shock at how his humor in the Facebook group had turned into a viral sensation.
“I posted it on like June 27th and it was kind of a joke,” Roberts said. “And then it waited for like three days and like 40 people, and then it just completely took off, out of nowhere. It’s pretty wild.”
More than 1.5 million people signed up on Facebook to storm the top secret military facility on Sept. 20th, with another 1.1. million expressing interest. The Air Force warned the foolish that they would take all measures to defend the base if there was an attempt to breach its security. Conspiracy theorists have long believed the base houses alien hardware and, perhaps, even captured extraterrestrials.