Snopes, a fact-checking website, modified its rating within a day, changing it from “True” to “Unproven” and ultimately to “False.”
This alteration occurred in an article discussing Elon Musk and the Starlink satellite system’s alleged involvement in the disappearance of a submersible carrying five passengers, which was scheduled to explore the wreck of the Titanic.
Following the loss of communication with the submersible, an ongoing story, the incident gained significant media attention.
However, it swiftly became a contentious topic on political Twitter, with various individuals engaging in a blame game.
Donald Trump Jr. spearheaded the circulation of conspiracy theories surrounding the missing vehicle, while many on the opposing side of the political spectrum were quick to attribute blame to Musk.
Several individuals and entities, including the now-deleted tweet from @PopCrave, @OccupyDemocrats, and the CEO of a pillow company William Legate engaged in the blame game regarding the disappearance of the submersible.
Snopes initially supported the connection, rating it as “True” that Musk’s Starlink was utilized for communication by the missing submersible.
The original version of their article acknowledged uncertainty regarding the extent of Musk’s company’s responsibility for the communication loss.
OceansGate, the company responsible for the Titanic expeditions, had previously tweeted about using Starlink to maintain internet connectivity at sea.
Starlink provides online connectivity in remote locations, as demonstrated during Ukraine’s infrastructure disruption caused by Russia’s invasion and attack.
Snopes cited tweets showcasing OceansGate’s use of Starlink for communication, affirming that the submersible relied on it. However, the article raised questions about the level of blame attributed to Starlink and Musk for the submersible’s loss.
Twitter users pointed out that satellites cannot facilitate communication from beneath the ocean. Snopes revised its rating from “True” to “Unproven.”
They stated that it was unknown whether or to what extent the submersible utilized Starlink, and they lacked information about Starlink’s role in the communication loss.
Ultimately, Snopes labeled the claim “False” based on scientists’ explanations that the submersible would have relied on an acoustic link with the surface vessel rather than satellite internet for communication.
It remains unclear how much Community Notes contributed to the change in Snopes’ rating from “True” to “False,” as well as the additional fact checks conducted on their original fact check.