Anyone not abducted by aliens has probably heard of the wild plan to raid Area 51 in September. While the Facebook event started as a joke, it quickly snowballed into much more.

Since the event went live, more than 1.2 million people have claimed they are “going.” Just under a million more are “interested.” Now, the U.S. military has taken notice. Amid fears that extremist alien-seekers will actually storm the detachment of Edwards Air Force base, the Air Force released an official statement saying it “stands ready” to defend its facilities.

It’s All Fun and Games Until…

The military does not respond kindly to threats. The sign posted right outside Area 51 that reminds would-be visitors that guards are authorized to use deadly force proves it.

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Although the Facebook event has likely given rise to more memes than people who will actually show up on September 20, the Air Force has issued a warning.

A spokeswoman recently said, “[Area 51] is an open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces. The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”

The government didn’t give any details about how it would deal with conspiracy seeking raiders if they arrive to storm the base. Regardless, the no-nonsense declaration (and the fact officials made a statement at all) should be enough to remind people not to take the plan seriously.

Though it should go without saying, storming a military base is never a good idea. Anyone hoping to “see them aliens” should certainly not put their lives at risk by raiding the facility.

Bigger Problems

While no one is mad about the humorous Area 51 memes filling Twitter and Facebook, the whole situation also serves as a strong example of the power of social media. Almost overnight, a million people signed up to attend an event that, if it were real, would be both illegal and highly dangerous.

Perhaps most disturbing is the fact it’s almost impossible to tell the extremists from the jokers. While Chuck Norris, Keanu Reeves, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will certainly not be raiding the base, they joined in via social media. Among the other million truth-seekers, it’s much harder to tell.

Some fear that the instant popularity of the Facebook event will spark similar situations in the future. If this concern becomes a reality, social media sites will have a lot of work to do to regulate “events” like these.

For now, everyone should stick to enjoying their Area 51 memes. Most importantly, they should make plans to do just about anything else come September.

Speaking of those memes…

 

 

And, never forget this guy…

 

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