But here is the story of how an innocuous tweet turned into some of the best fake news this year. Hold on tight!
A classic example of fake news
You may well have missed the recent announcement that NASA is developing its own cryptocurrency. As it turns out you didn't miss anything as it was all something of a misunderstanding.
Anne Neuberger, Director of NSA’s new Cybersecurity Directorate says that the agency will propose hardware and software standards again. Also notes agency is working to build quantum resistant crypto. pic.twitter.com/IIvjz1aTjO— William Turton (@WilliamTurton) September 4, 2019
Turton made his tweet off the back of an announcement by Anne Neuberger, who leads the NSA's Cybersecurity Directorate, at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington D. C.
The problem is that other reporters and bloggers appear to have the wrong end of the stick. An entire firestorm of fake news soon blazed.
Within moments of Turton making his tweet, many other enterprising bloggers turned his innocuous tweet in something apparently revolutionary - NASA has announced they are developing their own cryptocurrency!
As you've probably already worked out, it appears they might have been in error -- to say the least.
"NSA" clearly stands for the National Security Agency not NASA for starters. In fact, they have long been known for their research and development into all things encryption-related.
But if it had only stopped there wouldn't really be a problem. It appears that the mighty Forbes also made the same critical error. Forbes contributor Naeem Aslam also misread the tweet and wrote an entire blog about the subject.
Forbes later noticed the error and deleted Aslam's blog without any explanation. Of course, it is not possible to know their motives but we can probably assume it because the content was clearly wrong.
According to Gizmodo, "Aslam did not immediately respond to our request for comment on why he thought “NSA” meant “NASA” and “crypto” obviously meant “cryptocurrency.”
But it gets worse...
Sadly Forbes was not the only publisher to fall into the trap. Many other highly respected cryptocurrency sites also made the same error.
Another crypto site, CoinDesk, can also be added to the list with the exception that they were at least a little more skeptical. Their article's author, Daniel Palmer, did at least note "that Neuberger’s comment may indicate that the NSA is working on a cryptography technology, not a cryptocurrency, with the twin meanings of the term ‘crypto.’"
CoinDesk's article has since been updated to reflect the truth of the situation.
Absolute madness, but a great lesson for all involved ensuring they carry out some basic fact-checking before publishing material of this potential magnitude!
So, no NASA is not developing their own cryptocurrency!