The liberal fact-checking website Snopes.com has changed its verdict on an allegation that billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink firm was partly to blame for the loss of the OceanGate submarine.
Snopes first rated the claim that Musk’s firm was at least partially to blame as “true,” then revised that assessment to “unproven,” and then eventually deemed the claim “false” when the additional background was provided.
Musk saw the fact-checking fiasco and publicly criticized the site on Twitter when it confessed to being inaccurate.
On Tuesday, Snopes published its first evaluation of the allegation that OceanGate’s submarine and its exterior crew had been communicating through Starlink, Musk’s satellite internet network under his aerospace business SpaceX.
Even though Snopes later confessed it didn’t have all the facts, it first reported the story as “true,” suggesting that the demise of the sub had been due to some fault on the side of Starlink.
Snopes set the stage by explaining that Starlink is a spinoff of Elon Musk’s SpaceX. They didn’t know how much of a role Starlink had in the submersible’s communication breakdown or what caused it.
However, once additional information became available, Snopes changed its initial verdict on the allegation to “unknown.”
A third revision was made to the fact check, which now states that the original assertion was “false.” Scientists have noted that the submersible could not have depended on satellite internet to connect with the surface and that, instead, it would have had an audio link with the surface. How or why the parent vessel used Starlink technology while on the mission was unclear.
This third and current edition includes an editor’s note that admits the mistakes made in the previous two.
After seeing a tweet from Snopes that linked to the article, the millionaire owner of Twitter wrote, “You can’t even run a good psy op.”
According to MIT, SONAR (acoustic signals) is used for underwater communication by submarines. Airplanes rely on WIFI and cellular connections when in the air. None of these signals are able to travel across both air and water.