Despairing Texans are posting TikTok videos stating that last week’s deadly snowstorm, which plunged the state into chaos, is a “simulation” created by the government or corporate interests. The freak weather conditions have left millions without power and drinking water — and now people are turning to conspiracy theories for answers.
“That’s obviously government-created snow that was made by Joe Biden and the Democrats,” wrote one poster.
Texas isn’t the only place to be hit with a flurry of snow conspiracies, though. The trend began earlier this month in the UK, when some cities were blanketed with unusual hail-like snowflakes. They set anti-science conspiracy theorists off on wild TikTok rants. “This ain’t real snow. I don’t know what lab cooked this up but it ain’t fooling no one. Just look at it,” said one user named @jasmine.ac2 in a video that attracted 1.3 million views.
The theories then migrated across the Atlantic. “I’ve lived in Texas for 18 years and never seen snow like this,” says a user named Emily Rosielier. “Like how do they make fake snow look so real?”
One of the most talked-about clips was posted by Houston-based @omgchrissy1980. It shows a mother and her family out in the snow. The woman holds a lighter to a snowball and watches as it turns black. “Thank you Bill Gates for trying to fucking trick us that this is real snow,” she says.
In a second video she and her young daughter conduct another experiment with snow from their backyard. “If I put this shit in the microwave, it’s going to start sparking, because there’s metal in it,” she says. Needless to say, it melts.
The theories have also been roundly dismissed by fact-checkers, who have explained that snow behaves differently to ice when a lighter is held to it. Rather than melting, the frozen water evaporates, while the butane gas that fuels the flame turns the remainder black.
“There’s nothing strange or artificial about the snow in the videos. It’s probably best to let these claims melt away,” the Politifact website stated.
Snow-based conspiracy theories are not new, either. In 2014, when the state of Atlanta experienced massive snowstorms, similar stories did the rounds on YouTube and Facebook.
“Here we are again, with the same hoax distributed with new tools. Wishful thinking and ignorance of basic science will always trump fact checking,” tweeted Mike Rothschild, a conspiracy debunker and author who is writing a book about QAnon.
TikTok has not removed the videos flagged to the company by Coda Story, and said the company does “not allow misinformation that causes harm to individuals, our community, or the larger public.”
Other TikTokers are also hitting back against the conspiracists. Canadian influencer Matt Benfield posted a response to the videos to his 750,000 followers, citing his lifelong experience with heavy snowfall. “These conspiracy theories are getting wilder by the day. It’s offensive to the thousands of Texans without power and those that froze to death,” he said.