"It becomes kind of deflating to see a lot of this junk coming out."
TikTok has become a major hub for conspiracy theorists who claim that the Titanic never sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean, exasperating historians, the New York Times reported last week — just days before a submarine mysteriously went missing on its way to visit the wreck.
One video on the social media platform claims that the discovered boat wreckage is not the Titanic at all. The bizarre theory suggests the owners of the luxury liner swapped it with an older boat, the Olympic, which was damaged in past voyages. The video clearly hit a nerve and has garnered 92,000 likes.
Another conspiracy video that has since been deleted received 11 million views, according to the NYT.
Unsurprisingly, these kinds of unhinged and exhaustively disproven theories have turned into a major headache for those who have studied the sunken passenger ship for decades.
"It becomes kind of deflating to see a lot of this junk coming out," Charles Haas, author and cofounder of the Titanic International Society, told the NYT. "I feel like one of the very few voices crying out against the sound of a hurricane."
The conspiracy theories about the Titanic vary in detail. Many of them claim that it was swapped with its sister ship called the Olympic in an apparent attempt at insurance fraud. Their alleged smoking gun: right before the Titanic's fateful voyage in 1912, some of the most prominent members of upper-class society, such as banker JP Morgan, backed out of setting sail on the doomed vessel at the last minute.
Haas, who has written books on the Titanic and has visited the wreckage site himself, is painfully familiar with conspiracy theories about JP Morgan and the Olympic.
"The sad part is that many of the people following this sort of thing are teenagers, and they are woefully unwilling to do digging," he told the NYT.
Some amateur Titanic experts have taken to not just educating TikTok denizens on the facts, but are also busy debunking conspiracy theories like a game of wack-a-mole, according to the report.
But with fresh news that a sightseeing submersible has gone missing on its voyage to see the Titanic wreckage, conspiracy theories could well go into overdrive on TikTok.
And that shouldn't be surprising given how many other conspiracy theorists are already lurking on the video-sharing platform.
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