Broom challenge: Users being swept away by pseudoscience

Broom challenge: the latest trend on Twitter
A tweet with false information claiming NASA says Feb. 10 is the only day a broomstick can balance on its own because of a gravitation pull has gone viral.

This is one viral challenge that’ll sweep you off your feet.

Twitter was overwhelmed on Monday night with an influx of videos showing individuals “magically” making their brooms stand upright, unassisted.

Many of the posters claimed NASA inspired them to give this a shot, citing a gravitational or celestial phenomenon as the cause of the balancing brooms. However, it seems information credited to the space agency was fake.

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In fact, NASA took to Twitter on Tuesday to debunk the standing broom myth, sharing a video featuring astronaut Alvin Drew and scientist Sarah Noble.

In it, Drew can be seen standing up the broom, while Noble says: “Did you do the broomstick challenge yesterday? Well, turns out you can do it again today.”

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“It’s just physics,” Drew responds, matter-of-factly.

Many who tested the viral trend did so believing that it was possible only because the Earth has a peculiar tilt on Feb. 10.

“Okay, so NASA said today was the only day a broom can stand up on its own because of the gravitational pull … I didn’t believe it at first but OMG,” one Twitter user wrote, along with a photo of their broom.

Many others — including celebrities like Kehlani, Tory Lanes, rapper Future and Paula Abdul — shared hilarious videos and photos of themselves participating in the challenge.

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This isn’t the first time the #BroomChallenge has made the rounds on social media though.

It first came up in 2012 when Wired addressed claims that the standing brooms had to do with the Earth’s alignment on a particular day. Turns out, it has a lot more to do with gravity.

Similar to this challenge was the egg-balancing trick, which the BBC says was attributed to the spring equinox in February 2012.

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In a statement released to media, NASA said: “This is another social media hoax that exemplifies how quickly pseudoscience and false claims can go viral.”

“While this hoax was harmless, it also shows why it’s important for all of us to do some fact checking and research — including checking in with @NASA and for real science fun facts — before jumping into the latest viral craze.”

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