One Dumb Conspiracy is a weekly column that debunks the mostly wild conspiracy theories swirling around the web and runs on Mondays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.
Conspiracy theorists are claiming that the U.S. government dropped deadly mosquitoes from a helicopter last month onto music festival attendees in Maryland.
But none of the accusations being made are even remotely true.
Videos began circulating online last week of the AFRAM music festival that took place in Baltimore, Maryland on June 17th and 18th. In numerous posts across social media, users alleged that concert goers were seen fighting off deadly mosquitos that had been intentionally unleashed from the sky.
“Video just released ftom [sic] The AFRAM 2023 festival in Maryland saw visitors plagued with ‘deadly mosquitos,’ which were released from a helicopter which hovered overhead, online reports stated,” one tweet said.
The clip shows the crowd of attendees waving hats and other items around them in an apparent attempt to chase away something from their faces, although it is not clear from just the footage if insects are to blame.
Others attempted to blame the incident on billionaire Bill Gates, who for years has funded the development of genetically-modified mosquitoes. Gates is frequently at the center of numerous conspiracy theories.
“Is this another release of Bill Gates GMO modified fraken-squitos like in FL & TX?” another Twitter user asked.
Last month, four cases of malaria were detected in Florida and Texas, leading conspiracy theorists to similarly blame Gates. But the claim is easily debunked given that only female mosquitoes can spread disease, and the GMO mosquitos that were released in Florida (not Texas) are all male for this very reason.
The same goes for the festival in Maryland. For starters, those in attendance confirmed to multiple media outlets that it was gnats, not mosquitos, causing issues at the concert.
“They were stuck onto our skin, flying down people’s shirts, flying into people’s hair,” one attendee told the Associated Press. “They were completely stuck onto my sisters’ eyelashes— her eyelashes were filled with gnats! It was terrible!”
Secondly, no evidence whatsoever of a helicopter hovering above the festival has been shown. Not only that, the Baltimore Health Department confirmed that no insect-borne illnesses have been reported in the weeks following the event.
“I’m assuming they were the normal bugs you’d encounter in a City Park,” a spokesperson said. “We do know definitively that they were not killer bugs dropped from a helicopter— as evidenced by the lack of deaths from said suspected bugs.”
Although there is no proof that the government intends to kill off the public with GMO mosquitos, the claim continues to grow in popularity in conspiratorial circles.
Why it matters
Even a month-old video can be weaponized to spread fear and disinformation. While legitimate questions surrounding genetic modification can be raised, the notion that the technology is being used to kill the public with mutant mosquitoes is far from reality.
Like what you are reading?
Sign up to receive web_crawlr, a daily newsletter
from the Daily Dot, in your inbox each morning.