Left-wing fact-checker Snopes.com altered its rating about a claim suggesting that billionaire Elon Musk’s Starlink company was partially responsible for the disappearance of the OceanGate submersible since Tuesday.
Initially, Snopes claimed the allegation of Musk’s company bearing some responsibility was “true,” then updated the fact check to say it was “unproven,” before finally adding necessary context and deeming the allegation “false.”
The fact-checking debacle acquired the attention of Musk himself, who ripped the website on Twitter once it admitted it was wrong.
It provided context, saying, “Starlink is a subsidiary of SpaceX, which Elon Musk runs. However, we do not know how much Starlink is responsible for the loss of contact with the submersible, nor the reasons behind that loss of contact.”
However, once Snopes started getting more facts in the story, it updated its rating on the claim to “unknown.” The new assessment provided a less fuzzy account of Starlink’s involvement with the OceanGate crew.
It read, “Starlink is a subsidiary of SpaceX, which Elon Musk runs, and OceanGate indeed said it was relying on the company for the exhibition, which included the submersible and a mothership — that is, a vessel that stays above water to navigate and communicate with land during the exhibition.”
This last post, which is the one currently on Snopes.com, provided an editor’s note, acknowledging the errors of first two versions. It claimed, “Since the original publication of this fact check on June 20, 2023, Snopes clarified its rating and text to make clear that — while OceanGate, the company overseeing the submersible’s expedition, said it was using Starlink satellites for the trip — the submersible itself was not using the technology to communicate. How, or to what extent, the vessel’s mothership was using Starlink to communicate remained unknown.”
Musk blasted the site on multiple times on Twitter during its evolving fact-check. Replying to a Snopes tweet linking to the story, the billionaire Twitter owner claimed, “You can’t even run a good psy op.”
Replying to a tweet showing images of the different ratings Snopes tagged to the claim, Musk declared, “Snopes is a con.”