NASA Official: Rumors Wrong, New ‘Socials’ to Be Planned, Held

Image Credit: NASA
Image Credit: NASA

A re-post of a NASA memo that appeared on NASA Watch, SpaceRef, and later Universe Today suggested NASA will not be creating new versions of the highly-popular social media events known as “Socials.” This created a bit of an uproar among linkedin automation software users of these events. The belief that “Sequestration will Cancel NASA Socials” – is, at best, at least somewhat, inaccurate. In an effort to clarify the fate of NASA’s Socials, AmericaSpace reached out to NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Communications Bob Jacobs for clarifications regarding the posts.

“We expect socials to continue as usual. The suspension of outreach activities gives us time to assess the complete suite of communications efforts across NASA. Nothing has been canceled. The fiscal realities of the sequester and our budget require us to focus on mission critical work and to review resources across the agency. There is a clear process through which waivers will be provided for offices engaged in communications and outreach. It is important to remember that the fiscal year budget is more than $1 billion less than originally requested. We are being financially responsible with the reviews underway as a result of sequestration,” Jacobs said.

Seeking to confirm that NASA won’t be cancelling any established events and will be hosting new ones, we pressed Jacobs if this was, in fact, what would actually be taking place. We asked Jacobs the following:

Note to readers – AmericaSpace is removing the reference to NASA Watch as it was incorrect (NASA Watch never stated that sequestration would cancel Socials). Mr. Jacobs was asked if the rumors that emerged after the posts on these websites were incorrect. Here is his response:

“That is correct. We have registrations open for more events, and we expect those to go forward as planned,” Jacobs reiterated.

However, we did not let up (we hope Mr. Jacobs can forgive us—it was late Friday evening). So, we pressed him about whether or not new “Socials” will be planned and held.

“Yes. I think people are missing the forest for the trees. The review is not related to social media. It is for all public outreach, education, and public communications activities. It is much more broad. Most NASA social events are executed with existing media support resources for agency missions, and we expect those to go forward uninterrupted.”

Knowing that these events have had a tremendous impact on both space enthusiasts and novices alike, it seemed odd that NASA would stop planning new ones. AmericaSpace noted that the story had appeared on Universe Today as well. It was at this point that we opted to go to the source, because Universe Today’s article appears unsure about the veracity of the NASA Watch and SpaceRef reports (this has since been amended out of the original post). The PDF appearing in NASA Watch and SpaceRef is accurate – however, it does not appear that the interpretation that this memo will see the end of the NASA “Social”  – is not. Somewhere between NASA Watch’s original post and when the information appeared on Universe Today – the rumor that NASA was cancelling all “Socials” originated. We’d like to thank Bob Jacobs for ensuring our report was accurate.

Jacobs responded one last time:

“Well, since I plan them I expect them to go forward. I can’t say it any more clearly. NASA social media activities will continue.”

We at AmericaSpace feel it is the responsibility of the outlet that originated a post to correct misunderstandings that stemmed from that post (even if these misunderstandings are not their fault). We mistakenly reported something that was factually inaccurate – and apologize for this oversight.

Regardless, there does appear some debate on this. The repost of a NASA memo was picked up by another outlet & started these inaccurate rumors.  So we wanted to pose the question for discussion. Do you think an outlet has a responsibility to correct confusion for rumors that stem from their posts?  Or does the responsibility lie solely with the reader?


  1. Excuse me but where on NASA Watch do I say that no new NASA socials will be planned? I posted the NASA memos verbatim. Both memos I have posted on NASAWatch have been verified by NASA PAO. CHeck your facts.

  2. Your article still says “Reports appearing in NASA Watch, SpaceRef, and Universe Today that suggest NASA will not be creating new versions of the highly-popular social media events known as “Socials.” There is nothing on NASAWatch or SpaceRef that says this. Why do you not correct your website?

  3. Mr. Cowing,
    We corrected our statement. Even though you responded in a highly-disrespectful fashion – that does not make responding in a similar fashion acceptable. For that – I apologize. I wanted to stop the rumors being spread & should have reviewed the basis of these rumors. It was our intent to stop the false statements being made – not to enter into an argument with you.
    I reviewed the information & corrected accordingly. Given your insulting comments I don’t feel you have much to say in regards to professionalism. Contacting me directly would have garnered a correction & apology. Acting in the manner you have prevents that from being a possibility.
    Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  4. Jason, I feel rather ackward for posting some incorrect rumors on a post here earlier. I took it from well-respected sources myself and I found it to be rather troubling news. I’m really sorry for any misinformation I have helped spreading.

    • Leo,
      You didn’t. That’s the point – you rely on us to provide you with the information you’re seeking. It’s our job as journalists to spread the truth – not sow confusion. If, after the rumors started, an attempt was made to stop them – that’d have been one thing. No attempt was made. Given this, the amount of hysteria they caused as well as Mr. Cowing’s response? Let’s just say, it proved what a great many have been saying for some time. The difference here is, I actually feel bad about the mistake that appeared in this article – & worked to correct it as quickly as possible.
      Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericSpace

      • Jason, I was referring to a reply I made to Karol, relaying her the news from Universe Today’s article. It should be stated that Jason Major, the article’s author, clearly stated skepticism about the news in his article, so in my opinion his attitude was the right one. I just felt bad for relaying news I’ve read that weren’t true.

        • Leo,
          Yes, we too noted Jason’s skepticism. (…because Universe Today’s article appears unsure about the veracity…). I feel bad I didn’t double check to see what the originating piece actually stated. A lot of people took what they thought the memo said & ran with it. So, no need to feel bad.
          Sincerely, Jason

  5. Yesterday was a confusing time and quite the emotional ride, to be sure! When the original memo was published, it made a HUGE wake in the sea of #SpaceTweeps!
    I personally feel that yes, as a reader, I do have some responsibility in fact checking. But where do I go to check my facts? Well, this is one of those places! So, yes, I also feel that any web site also has (an even bigger) responsibility in checking facts.
    I also realize that last night was confusing for this site, and appreciate your getting the corrected word out as soon as you could.
    It should be noted that a lot of NASA fans came out of the lurking shadows last night, and we, as a community, are trying to figure out what, and how, we can help. Each and every person that has been to a NASA Tweetup/Social has come away better for the experience, and now it’s our turn to help!

    • James,
      To your, “but where do I go…” statement – precisely. If the places you go to get your information leave them open to interpretation & do nothing to quell the hysteria they cause – then they need to be held accountable. AmericaSpace posts a number of NASA press releases – verbatim. However, if something like this were to happen due to their posting – we’d try to correct that. The editor who posted the memo called this view of journalism, “strange.” I guess in the end, given this, it should be no surprise things got as out of hand as they did. Having said that, I should have reviewed the post that started it all – more closely.
      Sincerely & with thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  6. All,
    We’ve decided to restore the comments mentioned earlier because we feel that they are in-of-themselves relevant, showing to one & all the kind of person this individual is. This person could have contacted us via email (as someone else did) – we would have corrected it & apologized. Rather, he opted to behave in this manner – all the while trying to talk down to us regarding concepts of maturity, character & professionalism. We also have opted to restore this person’s commenting privileges as we have little doubt he will continue to behave this way & thus prove us correct.
    Sincerely, AmericaSpace

  7. Jason – everyone learns quickly that any mention of NASA Watch that is not sycophantic is regarded as a personal attack on Kieth Cowing. He relentlessly bombards any questionable mention of that site. He demands to be treated as a serious journalist while using the tactics of a bully. Journalists can respectfully carry on a dialog with people who disagree, but that is not the way that Kieth Cowing operates.

  8. Jason, this only serves to affirm what I have stated previously, to-wit, you have the patience of a saint.

    • Karol,
      Quite the contrary. What usually happens is I react pretty much like everyone else. Then I calm down & correct myself. If I was a saint, or a better editor, I wouldn’t respond at all & I wouldn’t have made the mistake I did.
      Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

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