The man behind the online movement seeking to break into the top-secret Area 51 and “see them aliens” is unhappy with Facebook’s decision to suspend his undertaking.
Matthew Roberts, a college student from California, posted a screenshot of the notice Facebook sent him saying the viral event had been taken down for posting content that violated the platform’s community standards.
“I never got any reason behind the event being removed,” Roberts told CNET news site. “I created a sister event which amassed about 15,000 people before being taken down for no reason.”
Although the real reason behind the ban remains unclear, it could be one of the thousands of posts and memes mocking the government or contemplating how to break into the military compound.
“I think it's pretty reckless of Facebook, especially because I'm trying to direct people away from storming the base,” Roberts said. “And now I've lost my entire audience.”
A Festival of Sorts
But Roberts doesn't plan to stop. “The event page might've gotten zucced, but I'm still throwing a f***in' party,” Roberts wrote on his page.
He is now planning an actual festival near Area 51 on Friday, 20 September, the day the prank was to occur, in the small town of Rachel – the closest one can get to the facility without having problems with the military.
“We travelled out into the desert to speak directly with land-owners about creating an event for people to celebrate the unnatural,” says the website Roberts launched after his Facebook event went viral. “They're totally on board!”
The festival, full of “Music, Camping, & Arts”, is going to take place over the weekend until Sunday, 22 September.
Before the event was taken down, nearly 2 million people RSVP's to attend – most in an apparent joke. Roberts expects that some 20,000 will actually come. “I want to make it like a festival of sorts,” he said in a TV interview. “I want to have a bunch of different musical artists, everybody from the EDM world and then maybe some indie rock, maybe some smaller guys that are up and coming.”
An Area of Secrets
Area 51 is a highly-classified zone located just over 150 kilometres outside of Las Vegas in Southern Nevada. Believed to be a test site for military aircraft and aviation technology, the facility has long been linked to alien conspiracies.
Some people claim that it is here that the US government is keeping a recovered alien spacecraft that supposedly crashed in the 1947 Roswell incident (according to the government, the aircraft that crashed near Roswell was a US Army Air Forces high-altitude balloon).
These conspiracies gained traction in 1989 after a man named Bob Lazar claimed to have worked on outer space aircraft hidden inside a secret lab somewhere underneath Area 51.
Although he provided no evidence to back up his claims, the alien myth crept into American films and video games and became deeply ingrained in pop culture.