The mysterious lights were seen by thousands of people, there's video evidence, and people are saying posts disappeared from social media. What happened?
Brazilians in the municipality of Magé, just north of Rio de Janeiro, reported seeing mysterious illuminated objects in the sky Wednesday. Several videos of the objects exploded on Reddit and Twitter, sparking incredible speculation about a crashed UFO that has been picked up widely in the Brazilian press.
Magé began to trend on Twitter Wednesday morning when several people began sharing videos of glowing lights in the sky. The videos show blue, red and yellow orbs moving around the sky, and one video shows the lights arranged in a triangular formation.
While the videos themselves are curious, though hardly evidence of anything otherworldly, UFO enthusiasts began to fall down the conspiratorial rabbit hole rather quickly when posts about the event began disappearing on Twitter. As the event began to gather digital steam, the #MageUFO hashtag began to swell with posts, then, suddenly, vanished. Meanwhile, on the r/UFOs Reddit page, posts concerning the Brazilian UFOs also began to disappear. Crying foul, users began to accuse both Twitter and the moderators of the r/UFOs subreddit of censorship. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Threads and comments about the UFOs were deleted from the r/UFOs subreddit; in a post, a moderator said that “I see a lot of stupidity in this thread, so let me just make it absolutely clear: mods here do not censor. If a post is stupid or offensive it will be removed. If it is a hoax, we’ll remove it.” That moderator has been pilloried in the comments, with dozens of redditors suggesting that perhaps the subreddit for UFOs is where they should be allowed to talk about a UFO event that had thousands of eyewitnesses and dozens of videos posted. People wanting to discuss the event have moved on to r/aliens in the meantime.
To make matters worse, users began posting a Google Maps link showing a satellite image of part of Magé, suggesting a vast conspiracy and Google coverup. It looks like this, which is unfortunate for Google:
A white image glitch in the shape of, well, a flying saucer, seems to appear in a wooded area north of Rio de Janeiro. Google Maps satellite images are not updated instantly, of course, so this is an old image. A Google spokesperson explained to Motherboard what is going on here:
“In this case, what people are seeing in the imagery is a reflection that is temporarily overloading the satellite’s sensor,” the spokesperson said. “Essentially, the sun reflected off the surface of that building at just the right angle to briefly blind the satellite. This is a pretty common phenomenon known as saturation or blooming.”
While the Brazilian press reports that no one reported these objects to local authorities, allegations of loud explosions and gunshots, the Brazilian military cordoning off the area, and army personnel arresting anyone trying to get close to the supposed crash site have taken over Twitter and the r/Aliens subreddit.
Typical internet lunacy aside, Brazil has been a long time hotspot for some pretty interesting UFO incidents. In 1957, journalist Ibrahim Sued received an envelope containing small bits of metal from an anonymous source claiming that they were debris from Ubatuba, a beach resort town, where an alleged UFO had crashed. Though not otherworldly in origin, the fragments were a highly pure magnesium. It is unclear where the metal came from and still remains a mystery. The infamous Colares UFO flap of 1977 made headlines when locals on the island of Colares began reporting strange objects in the sky and bizarre injuries to their bodies. According to researcher and computer scientists Jacques Vallee, several individuals were allegedly killed by the objects witnessed on the island. Reports of radiation and thermal burns, as well as strange scars, fill the Brazilian government’s file on the incident. After a formal investigation, the government concluded that it found no evidence of unusual phenomena.
One of the most bizarre cases occurred in 1996 when several people claimed to witness a strange alien creature roaming the streets of Varginha City. Looking like “the devil,” the large headed brown skinned 5 foot tall being was first spotted by three women on a January afternoon. Several other sightings were reported, and even the Wall Street Journal picked up the story. Silly as it may sound, it still exists as one of Brazil’s most famous cases.
While this latest Brazlian UFO incident will most likely join the countless other UFO mysteries that haunt South America’s skies, skeptics have argued that the lights over Magé were simply skydivers equipped with pyrotechnics, chinese lanterns, or drones.