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What is the broomstick challenge? Another hoax ‘sweeping’ the internet

Kids these days. Give them a minute alone online and they’ll find some bizarre or potentially dangerous way to entertain themselves. That’s typically the reason why so many strange social media challenges emerge; and once they get popular enough, there’s no stopping the spread.

Whether it’s singing embarrassing songs into apps like Tik Tok or eating cinnamon to the point of vomiting, there’s no shortage of viral challenges teens film themselves doing for clout. Tap or click here to see how teens and kids are nearly burning down their houses for social media fame.

But the latest online challenge to emerge is thankfully far less dangerous. Instead of trafficking in stupidity, this challenge grew out of misinformation about how the universe works.

As a result, people on social media are standing their brooms upright in an act that supposedly defies gravity. Does it, though?

A viral challenge for the mundane

In the past week, a huge spike in cleaning supply photography occurred across Twitter and similar social media platforms. Out of nowhere, people started posting photographs of brooms standing upright without any support.

The reason: a viral challenge that takes advantage of an alleged “shift in the earth’s gravitational field.”

While nobody is 100% sure how this viral trend started, signs point to a popular tweet that helped the initial claim take off on social media.

This tweet has more than 70,000 shares and more than 300,000 likes. Even in the replies, you can see several users attempting the challenge for themselves. There’s only one problem: Nothing in the tweet is based on reality.

Well, except the broom standing. That trick actually does work.

NASA says what?

Although the original tweet speaks of NASA proclaiming a unique gravitational pull on Feb. 10 (for some reason), there’s no evidence to back it up. At risk of ruining everyone’s fun, we can tell you gravity doesn’t simply fluctuate like this on certain days of the year.

If NASA were to make such an announcement, it would be one of the biggest scientific stories of all time. But the reality is any flat-bristled broom can stand up just like this — even if the handle is angled. This is simply due to the bristles working together to create a flat surface for the lightweight broom to rest upon.

The wildfire response to this challenge just goes to show how easy it is for misinformation to spread across social media.

Though this particular fib is benign, wild rumors about real crises like the COVID-19 coronavirus can cause unneeded panic and fear. Tap or click to see if you can tell which coronavirus stories are true or false.

On a positive note, this challenge is one of the more wholesome to come out of Twitter. Nobody is getting hurt this time, or eating detergent for that matter. Seriously, though, don’t do that — it can kill you! Tap or click to see why YouTube had to shut down the “Tide Pod Challenge.”

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