Fact Check: MBC, NASA DON'T Predict Internet Will Shut Down Globally In October 2023

Fact Check

  • by: Rebaz Majeed
Fact Check: MBC, NASA DON'T Predict Internet Will Shut Down Globally In October 2023 Baseless

Did Saudi media MBC and U.S. space agency NASA say that the Internet will be globally shut down in October 2023? No, that's not true: There is no evidence that NASA said there will be an "Internet apocalypse," and the news report from MBC dates from four years ago and was misinterpreted.

The claim appeared in a video that's no longer available but is archived here. It was published on TikTok by @majiid1982 on September 17, 2023, under the title (translated from Arabic to English by Lead Stories staff) "Internet will shut down on October 11, 2023." The video said:

The shutdown of the internet will not be short, it might take weeks or even months.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-09-26 at 00.00.58.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Sep 25 22:00:27 2023 UTC)

The claim went viral on TikTok and it was published by many different accounts, such as here and here. While many accounts spread the same claim with different details, some of them linked it to different conspiracy theories such as a virus spread by elites, occurrence of forced vaccination and appearance of aliens by using hologram technology.

Some videos used a news report from Saudi MBC Group that talked about rumors that the Internet would shut down on October 11, 2019, the year when the news report was published.

Screenshot 2023-09-26 at 00.53.29.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Mon Sep 25 23:12:04 2023 UTC)

In the news report, MBC declared the rumors about the Internet apocalypse "inaccurate."

Screenshot 2023-09-26 at 00.48.44.png

(Source: YouTube screenshot taken on Mon Sep 25 23:19:00 2023 UTC)

Some videos mentioned that NASA issued a warning regarding the shutdown of the Internet because of solar storms. According to the Washington Post and Space, NASA has never used the expression "Internet apocalypse" and the false claims originate from a paper named "Solar super storms: planning for an Internet apocalypse" published in 2021. Its author told the Washington Post later that she regrets using the expression and her paper "got too much attention." While some TikTok accounts referred to an article by NASA titled "NASA-enabled AI Predictions May Give Time to Prepare for Solar Storm" as evidence for the claim, the article does not mention any possibility of an Internet shutdown in October 2023 due to solar storms.

Lead Stories searched the web page of NASA and conducted a Google search (archived here) with the following keywords "NASA Internet apocalypse October." The results did not show any credible reports regarding the claim that the Internet will shut down globally in October.

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  Rebaz Majeed

Rebaz Majeed is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. He is a multilingual freelance journalist and researcher. He worked for five years as a reporter for Voice of America (VOANews) in Iraq. Currently, he is pursuing his MA in Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East at Free Berlin University. Rebaz brings extensive knowledge and expertise to his role at LeadStories.

Read more about or contact Rebaz Majeed

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