Millions Duped by Fake Space Station Livestreams on Facebook

Be sure to properly source your stream.

Getty Images / NASA

To compete with Periscope and other live-streaming programs, Facebook has been aggressively promoting its Facebook Live feature, in hopes that this will be the next big broadcasting format. As such, many organizations are hoping to rake in extra followers thanks to the added visibility. Not all of these organizations are going about it the right way, as seen earlier this week, with several passing off old footage of the space station as live footage.

UNILAD and Viral USA are just two pages that tricked millions of viewers in this way, when they launched what they called “live” video streams from space earlier this week. Millions of people watched and commented on the feeds, including over 17 million, through UNILAD’s Facebook page, and another 26 million over on Viral USA’s page.

The videos appear to be old material taken from spacewalk videos in 2013 and 2015. A quick check of NASA’s Facebook page and the Facebook page of the International Space Station revealed no live content. Furthermore, NASA didn’t announce any spacewalk this week, and the only live events scheduled were Sunday’s docking of the Cygnus spacecraft with the space station, a change of command ceremony on Friday, and a crew return on Saturday.

A screenshot of the Viral USA live event. 


If you want to see a truly live video from space, head over to NASA’s official Facebook page, Twitter account, or website. NASA TV streams gorgeous high-definition views from the station’s on-board camera throughout the day. It’s guaranteed to make all your stress just fade away.

As part of an experiment designed to study how well the camera equipment holds up against the harsh environment of space, the views originate from four different high definition cameras installed on the space station’s exterior. The cameras also give viewers on Earth the chance to see breathtaking views of our home planet from space — something only astronauts have been privy to in the past.

When asked about why they would pass off previously-recorded footage as a live shot, UNILAD told the BBC they posted the stream in order to “test the capabilities of what the live broadcast” feature on Facebook could accomplish.

Space was pretty lit last week so perhaps they just thought they could cash in on the views.

Ultimately, NASA loves it whenever anyone is interested in space, and seeing Earth from space is known to have a profound effect on people, so maybe there’s a silver lining here. Just remember to double check your sources, and while the views from space are always pretty, chances are they’re only “live” if the source is NASA.

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