A video (featured above) is making the rounds on social media purporting to show a swarm of ants moving randomly until there’s an incoming phone call, at which point the ants all move in step in a circle around the phone. It looks like something electromagnetically sensitive ants might do, and maybe plays into our fears about cell phone radiation, but it’s also most likely fake.
Let’s take a look at the red flags here before clicking that “share” button:
- Even at 720p, everything is out of focus save for the “ants”. They aren’t Sasquatch.
- The ants’ movement looks too fast, as though an animation was overlayed on a video.
- The ants pass through each other.
- The phone call is from “Anonym” instead of “Anonymous”. Not a smoking gun, but definitely weird to have a contact with that name.
Then consider the channel itself:
- The video is from a channel calling itself the “viral video lab,” that’s not damning evidence, but it is suspicious that it wasn’t just uploaded by a user.
- The description of the video includes “This Is What Your iPhone Has Done To Your Braincells,” and “Video of ants circling phone divides academics”, phrases that are unrelated and clickbaity to the highest degree. The rest of the description makes no sense, scientific or otherwise, and links out to general Wikipedia pages.
All of this isn’t to say that it’s impossible for ants to behave this way, but even ant experts like Alex Wild are unconvinced:
For whatever reason, it’s just easy to believe that our cell phones are putting out radiation that does “weird” things, despite the lack of evidence that they do so. This video seems to be trying too hard to exploit those same fears.
And if you want a real video of ants doing something amazing, check out these bugs daisy-chaining themselves in order to haul large prey around. Now that should go viral.