The departments of police and military of Shaanxi Province, and relative departments of cities around Qin Ling Mountain, including Hanzhong, Ankang, Baoji, Xi'an and Shangluo City, all denied the so-called "UFO event" on the Internet on Oct. 14.
The UFOs were just rays of square spot lights
"It is said that a whole village near Qin Ling disappeared after several shining UFOs flew over it, and the thing is under investigation by military troops. All news has been blocked."
Above sentences are the content of a post on Internet on Oct. 13. It was rapidly and widely spread by other websites and micro-blogs, making the post the most popular on the Internet for the day.
However, when reporters went to Xianyang to learn more about the horrible event, they found the claims could not be further from the truth. Those so-called UFOs were just rays of some spotlights that are located at Yintai Square of Xianyang City.
How does the rumor come out?
Although the identity of the UFOs had been established, the rumors continued to spread on the Internet. After investigation, reporters found the post and the rumor just originated from an Internet signature of an average netizen.
At 2:37 p.m. on Oct. 11, a netizen named Zhang Lixing changed his Internet signature to "Strange thing happened at the foot of Qin Ling Mountain." No one would ever think about such a simple sentence without other contents can finally trigger a huge rumor.
At 5:18 p.m. on Oct. 12, a Netizen, nicknamed "NDSWJ" updated his micro-blog with "A post about 'strange thing happened in Qin Ling' was still spreading in Xi'an City."
At 1:03 a.m. on Oct. 13, a message released in Baidu's "Post Bar" claimed "It is said a whole village disappeared after several UFOs flew over it, and the army has already investigated the event."
As of the morning of Oct. 13, similar messages started being spread widely through forums, micro-blogs and other social networking websites. There were many versions, such as savages, UFOs, nuclear bomb, snakes, aliens and even giant salamanders. As the story spread people kept adding parts from their own imaginations to it and finally the result was a simple sentence became a horrible tale.
By Wang Hanlu, People's Daily Online