Media

Are We That Gullible? ‘Ebola Zombies’ Panic Spreading Like Wildfire on the Internet

The ebola conspiracy theories and hoaxes are starting to get goofy.

Photo Credit: Altered test shot from World War Z used on Big American News hoax site.

News of an imminent zombie invasion in Liberia is perhaps the most audacious fake news story on the Internet right now, creating panic among thousands of gullible readers who are taking it seriously on social media message boards, repeating the rumor among friends, and getting a bit hysterical about the spread of ebola in Dallas, TX.

The right-wing mock news site, Big American News, broke the fake story to its readers on September 30. Since then, the link to the article has been tweeted nearly 1,000 times and shared by more than 500,000 Facebook users.

The article, “Africa Confirms 3rd Ebola Victim Rises From the Dead, Releases Picture of First ‘Ebola Zombie’ Captured” is only the latest in a series of conspiracy theories on the ebola crisis spreading on the Internet.

Over the past several months, sites such as Russia Today (RT.com) and Gateway Pundit have claimed that the current ebola outbreak is an American bioweapon. Not to be outdone, Big American News has been publishing a series of articles not only backing this claim, but stating that the U.S. modified and weaponized ebola so that its victims, after succumbing to the virus, would rise from the dead.

In August, Big American News published an article “America’s Ebola Outbreak is Obama’s Latest Scheme To Force Americans to Sign-up For Obamacare” which seems to be the inspiration of ChristWire’s infamous article “Obama is Infecting Christians with Ebola To Destroy Jesus and Start A New Age of Liberal Darkness.”

While Big American News may be a mock-news source, its sources are not kidding around. Big American News got the story from the popular African news site, AllAfrica.com, which aggregated the ebola zombie story from a Liberian newspaper called New Dawn.

The original story on New Dawn claims:

Two Ebola patients, who died of the virus in separate communities in Nimba County have reportedly resurrected in the county. The victims, both females, believed to be in their 60s and 40s respectively, died of the Ebola virus recently in Hope Village Community and the Catholic Community in Ganta, Nimba.

But to the amazement of residents and onlookers on Monday, the deceased reportedly regained life in total disbelief. The NewDawn Nimba County correspondent said the late Dorris Quoi of Hope Village Community and the second victim only identified as Ma Kebeh, said to be in her late 60s, were about to be taken for burial when they resurrected.

The article continues:

Ma Kebeh had reportedly been in door for two nights without food and medication before her alleged death. Nimba County has had bazaar news of Ebola cases with a native doctor from the county, who claimed that he could cure infected victims, dying of the virus himself last week.

News of the resurrection of the two victims has reportedly created panic in residents of Hope Village Community and Ganta at large, with some citizens describing Dorris Quoi as a ghost, who shouldn't live among them. Since the Ebola outbreak in Nimba County, this is the first incident of dead victims resurrecting.

The latest Big American News article took the story a step further stating that World Health Organization workers are fleeing in horror and calling for military assistance in dealing with the ebola zombies. And the website suggests that ebola zombies may be walking the streets of Dallas soon.

With Texas now infested with an unknown amount of Ebola patients, nearby Kansas has declared a state of emergency. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has declared October “Zombie Awareness Month” and the state is on high alert for a zombie outbreak. Homes across the state are to receive pamphlets warning them of how toprevent the spread of Ebola and what to do if an Ebola Victim falls dead and then starts to show life again.

Gov. Brownback did, in fact declare October to be “Zombie Awareness Month,” but it was nothing more than a public relations stunt to show that the state’s Division of Emergency Management is prepared for any type of catastrophe, even a zombie attack. Brownback even posed, smiling, with two women in zombie make-up when making the statement.

The photo used on the Big American News article (also included with this article), is actually a screenshot of a zombie from the movie World War Z.

Cliff Weathers is the communications director at Riverkeeper, New York's clean water advocacy organization. He is a former senior editor at AlterNet and served as a deputy editor at Consumer Reports. Twitter @cliffweathers.