In the wake of stunning pictures taken by the James Webb Space Telescope in July, Étienne Klein, a French physicist, purportedly shared a picture of Proxima Centauri, a star believed to be closest to the sun.
The picture that appeared to be a close-up of the red star gathered over 20,000 likes.
However, a few hours after his tweet went viral, Klien revealed that the picture he shared was fake. Instead of a distant star, he had shared a photograph of a sliced chorizo (a type of pork sausage) that was taken against a black background.
In the tweets that clarified that the image of Proxima Centauri, claimed to have been taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, was fake, Klein urged the netizens to not blindly believe things that they see online, even if they come from people with authority or high credentials.
Many people were amused at Klien’s prank. While praising his sense of humour, a Twitter user wrote, “This is a god tier level troll. Beautiful. Just utterly beautiful.”
However, many netizens criticised Klien for his tweet as they believed it added to the anti-science bias that is plaguing a large section of society. Echoing this sentiment, a Twitter user argued, “This is disgraceful conduct. The public’s trust in scientists is at an all-time low (e.g. antivax and anti-mask groups) and you’re pulling stunts like this that further undermine the works of scientists as a whole.”