A strange phenomenon seen in the Brazilian sky triggers conspiracy theories
Were they paratroopers with flashlights, satellites or, as Internet users point out, a flying saucer?
The Brazilian city of Magé is often remembered as the place where Garrincha, the greatest soccer dribbler in history, grew up. But also for the two decades of crime and political corruption that have plagued this region, just north of Rio de Janeiro.
However, last Wednesday Magé made headlines for something as inexplicable and prodigious as a sighting. Thousands of people uploaded videos showing luminous orbs of blue, red and yellow moving across the city sky.
Soon, the Brazilian press echoed the phenomenon without anyone reporting it to the authorities. A huge ball of conspiracies –even more unusual than those mysterious lights– began to gestate on the Internet.
Not only were the videos viral, but there were comments on Twitter and Reddit about loud explosions and gunfire, military cordons, and alleged warnings that the army was arresting anyone who approached the site where the sightings were taking place.
In an era of post-truth and widespread panic, the Internet has become the best ally of conspiracy theories because of its rapid spread and among billions of users.
When what happened at Magé went viral, new publications emerged using the #MageUFO hashtag. But suddenly they disappeared both from the r/UFO subreddit and from Twitter, which made Internet users denounce censorship.
That's how Vice explained it:
"Threads and comments about UFOs were removed from the r/UFO subreddit. In one post, a moderator said: "I see a lot of stupidity in this thread, so let me make it absolutely clear: mods here don't censor. If a post is stupid or offensive, it will be removed. If it's a hoax, it will be removed."
Users criticized the moderators harshly. Even Google was accused of being a cover-up because of a link on Google maps that some Internet users posted that showed a satellite signal of Magé with a glowing orb in the shape of a flying saucer.
"In this case, what people are viewing in the images is a reflection that is temporarily overloading the satellite's sensor," said a Google spokesman.
"Essentially, the sun reflected off the surface of that building at just the right angle to briefly blind the satellite. This is a fairly common phenomenon known as saturation or blooming."
Since the quarantine began around the world, other strange events in the sky have been reported, and over time, they have also been reported as recurrent. Like the rows of lights that crossed the sky in early April and were eventually identified as Starlink satellites to provide Internet access to the world owned by Elon Musk's company.
However, Brazil has a long history of UFO and even UFO sightings.
One of the most notorious sightings, which lasted for months, occurred in 1977 on Colares Island, at the mouth of the Amazon, when inhabitants were "attacked" by unidentified objects whose radiation produced burns on the body that reportedly healed within ten minutes.
— ufoTO (@UFOTORONTO) May 15, 2020
There were at least 80 deaths at the time, the region had to be evacuated and the Brazilian Air Force sent a team to investigate the event under the name of Operation Prato, which to this day remains unexplained.
Also in 1996, in the region of Varginha, several people claimed to have seen a strange creature wandering around the city. The alleged UFO incident had worldwide coverage, but to this day the Brazilian government has officially denied that it was involved in any alien-type investigation.
What happened, then, in Magé? Were they Elon Musk's satellites, paratroopers with flashlights, or drones?
Silence in this and other cases gives free rein to the friends of the conspiracy.