Fake CNN screenshot shared to claim Titanic-bound submarine was empty

By: Toibah Kirmani
June 26 2023

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Fake CNN screenshot shared to claim Titanic-bound submarine was empty


The Verdict False

CNN has not published any article reporting that the submarine was found empty.

Claim ID dcb14989


Social media users are sharing a screenshot of what appears to be a CNN report which says that the Titanic-bound OceanGate submersible named 'Titan' was found empty. This claim is related to the submersible carrying five people to the century-old wreck of the Titanic that suffered a "catastrophic implosion" killing all onboard according to the U.S. Coast Guard. 

The submersible had lost contact with its support ship shortly after beginning its dive on June 18, and the debris were found after a multinational five-day search for the vessel.

A user named Timothy Junior shared the screenshot on Facebook on June 21 titled "Missing OceanGate Submarine Found Empty." The alleged CNN report states that the submarine was found but without any passengers, attributing the information to Wendy Rush, the co-founder of OceanGate. The post includes an image of the OceanGate vessel and the byline of the story is attributed to CNN News. This screenshot was shared on Instagram and Twitter as well, and videos showing the screenshot have gone viral on TikTok.

In Fact

We performed a keyword search on the CNN website and found no news items stating that the submarine had been "found empty."

Upon closer examination of the screenshot, we identified several discrepancies. The design and font of the CNN news report in the screenshot do not match with those typically used by CNN. The date format followed by CNN is as follows: “Updated 10:28 AM EDT, Thu June 22, 2023." Whereas, in the screenshot in question, the date was written as: “06/21/2023 06h59 Updated 1 hour ago." 

The red box highlighting the category is not consistent with CNN's usual black highlighting. Also, we did a reverse Google search and found the image featured at the bottom of the report inaccurately shows the Cyclops 1 Submersible instead of the Titan submersible.

The post wrongly attributed the information to Wendy Rush, wife of Ocean Gate's CEO - who also died in the incident. The company operated the submarine, and referred to her as co-founder. Her LinkedIn profile says she serves as the company’s communications director and she made no such comments so far. 

According to a Reuters report, debris of the submersible was found at 488 meters away from the bow of the Titanic wreck on the seabed, about four kilometer below sea level, on Thursday, June 22. The US Coast Guard and the Canadian safety officials have both launched a probe into the implosion that killed all five on board. Another Reuters report quoted U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger informing the media that the submersible likely suffered a "catastrophic implosion", which indicates that the vehicle "ultimately collapsed and was crushed under the immense hydrostatic pressure at that depth."

The passengers on the sub were British businessman Hamish Harding; Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his teenage son, Suleman; French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet; and Stockton Rush, the OceanGate CEO.

The Verdict

The screenshot being attributed to CNN is fake. CNN has not published any report that claims that submersible was found empty. Hence, we rate this claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before