Images falsely claim to show Titanic sub debris

23 June 2023
What was claimed

Images show debris of the OceanGate submersible that went missing during an expedition to the Titanic wreckage.

Our verdict

Some of the images are likely AI-generated and one was taken at the Titanic wreck site many years before the submersible imploded.

Hundreds of people have shared a Facebook post with the caption “Here are images of the Debris found of the Titanic Submarine” alongside a picture of a pair of shoes and a sea creature on the ocean floor and other pictures of what appears to be a wrecked vessel on the seabed.

The pictures have emerged following confirmation from authorities that the Titan tourist submersible, which went missing during an expedition to the Titanic shipwreck, had imploded, killing all five on board. 

But the image of the shoes does not show debris of the submersible—it was actually taken at the Titanic site almost 20 years ago.

The image appears on the photography website Alamy, with the caption: “This 2004 image provided by the University of Rhode Island's Institute for Exploration and Center for Archaeological Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Ocean Exploration shows the shoes of one of the possible victims of the Titanic disaster.” 

The same picture has also been shared on Twitter with the implication it shows debris from the Titan submersible, alongside a screenshot from a video of ocean debris at an unknown location published on YouTube 10 years ago.

The other images in the Facebook post were shared by a Twitter account named “Prince of Deepfakes (Parody)” which has previously published AI-generated images made using software like Midjourney. These tweets came after the US Coast Guard announced that a debris field had been discovered in the search area but before the press conference confirming there had been an implosion and all onboard were sadly lost. 

The account also posted what appears to be an AI-generated image of a gaming controller floating underwater with the caption: “Breaking: Imploded titan titanic submarine controller found floating near surface”, following news that the submersible was controlled by a “modified gaming controller”.

Breaking new stories like this are often a breeding ground for misinformation, especially when it comes to misleading images that have been repurposed from other events. 

It’s always worth checking whether content is real before you share it. You can read more about how to spot AI-generated images using our guide here

At the time of writing, no images of debris suspected to be from the submersible have been released by the US Coast Guard, OceanGate (the company operating the tour) or published by the media. The Coast Guard said there had been a “catastrophic implosion” and debris of the Titan found was “consistent with catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber”.

Image courtesy of the US Coast Guard

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