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The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

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Don’t believe everything you read online

Illustration by Akhila Nadimpalli

I remember when everyone said the world would end in 2012.

The Mayan calendar ended on December 21, 2012, which sparked speculation online as to what would occur on that date.

According to a Reuters global poll from that year, one in 10 people experienced anxiety at the time in anticipation of the expected end of the world.

I can vividly recall my 10-year-old self sleeping on the living room couch that night because I was too afraid to be in my room alone.

I lied awake almost all night, looking out the window waiting for the entire world to go up in flames.

All because some people online said so.

I got a strange sense of déjà vu on April 8 during the solar eclipse.

Similar to 2012, conspiracy theorists online began to push the idea that this celestial event was a sign of the end times.

Alex Jones, host of InfoWars, took to X, formerly known as Twitter, in the weeks leading up to the eclipse to rave about the threat it posed.

In one post, Jones replied to another user’s video in regard to the suspected presence of the national guard in some areas along the route of the eclipse.

Jones stated, “The government is hyping the solar eclipse like it’s the end of the world. I think it’s bull shit. They have never done this before. What do you think is going on?”

Some states decided to send out their national guard leading up to and during the solar eclipse.

These decisions only pushed conspiracy theorists to speculate that the national guard was sent out to take over and control the local population.

In actuality, they were sent to deal with the reasonable influx of tourists and maintain public safety.

However, that is far too logical of a reason for online theorists.

Unfortunately, online conspiracy theories can be taken to the extreme and sometimes have deadly results.

Danielle Cherakiyah Johnson, an astrology influencer on X under the name “Ayoka,” posted multiple warnings about the recent eclipse.


A few hours before the eclipse peaked in Los Angeles, Johnson stabbed her partner to death and proceeded to throw her two children out of the car on a local freeway.

The violence sadly resulted in the death of the infant daughter, while the 9-year-old received moderate injuries.

Johnson then proceed to drive her vehicle into a tree at 100 miles per hour, which police are still investigating to be an accident or suicide.

Police have not drawn a definite connection between the eclipse and Johnson’s behavior, but Johnson had no prior felony criminal record or reports of domestic violence.

This is not the first time that online conspiracy theories have spiraled into violence.

In 2016, a theory, known as “Pizzgate,” began to spread on online forums such as 4chan and Reddit.

The theory insisted that a popular pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C., was a cover for a child sex trafficking ring controlled by Democrats.

This incident resulted in non-fatal shooting as Edgar Welch of North Carolina forced his way into the establishment armed with an AR-15 and two other weapons.

Welch told police that he was there to free the children that were rumored online to be in the basement, despite the fact that the restaurant did not have a basement.

Again, this incident thankfully resulted in no fatalities, but it does not mean that this case is not an important warning for online users.

While conspiracy theories can be a fun change of perspective, it is essential that we avoid diving too far into the rabbit hole of the internet.

Anyone can post anything on social media, so it is up to us to utilize our media literacy skills to differentiate fact from fiction.

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