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A cargo ship is stuck under the part of the structure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024, after the ship hit the bridge in Baltimore, Md. (AP) A cargo ship is stuck under the part of the structure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024, after the ship hit the bridge in Baltimore, Md. (AP)

A cargo ship is stuck under the part of the structure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024, after the ship hit the bridge in Baltimore, Md. (AP)

Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone March 27, 2024

As investigators tried to determine why a container ship crashed into Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, social media users shared baseless speculation about the cause. The collapse  left six people presumed dead and closed one of the nation’s busiest ports.

Across social media platforms, people gave a variety of explanations for why the ship lost power and steered into the bridge.

Here are some of the claims PolitiFact has debunked so far:

There’s no evidence of ‘false flags’ or a cyberattack

It’s common after tragic national news for social media users with mixed motives to flock online and assert the event was intentional or staged to distract people from important issues. 

The Baltimore bridge collapse is no different. One social media user said the collapse was a false flag to divert attention from the raid of music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs’ properties as part of a sex trafficking investigation. Online influencer Andrew Tate said that the ship was the target of a cyberattack that caused it to lose power and steer into the bridge.

Both claims lack evidence. Maryland state and federal authorities said there’s no reason to believe the ship crashing into the bridge was intentional. 

No, Wikipedia entry doesn’t prove Israel directed the bridge collapse

An X post showed what appeared to be a Wikipedia page entry about the Baltimore bridge collapse that said, "After the US abstained from the ceasefire resolution for Gaza, the Israelis deployed their Talmudic network to take down the bridge."

Anyone can edit a Wikipedia page, so even if that entry was real, it’s not proof that Israel directed an attack on the bridge. 

Andrea Chao, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.’s late sister-in-law, wasn’t CEO of the company that owned the ship

Chao, who drowned in February after accidentally backing her Tesla into a Texas pond, was the CEO of Foremost Group, her family’s shipping company. But her company didn’t own the Dali, the Singapore-based vessel that struck the Baltimore bridge.

Grace Ocean Private Ltd. owns the Dali, and Synergy Marine Group manages the ship. Chao had no connection to either company.

(Instagram screenshot)

Video doesn’t show explosions on the Baltimore bridge. It’s from a 2022 Crimea explosion

An Instagram video showed a real video of the Baltimore bridge collapsing but claimed that explosions brought it down. The video then purported to show the bridge from a different angle before a fiery explosion happened. The bridge explosion seen in the video came from 2022 footage on the Kerch bridge that connected Russia to Crimea.

Buttigieg didn’t blame the bridge collapse on racism

X, Instagram and TikTok users took U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s 2021 comments about racism in infrastructure design choices out of context, making it look as though he blamed the Baltimore bridge accident on racism to avoid accountability.

Netflix trailer for Leave the World Behind.

Netflix film didn’t predict Baltimore bridge accident

The 2023 Netflix movie "Leave the World Behind," which lists former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama as executive producers and is based on a 2021 novel, is about two families vacationing in Long Island, New York, who are trying to survive a mysterious cyberattack that caused a communication blackout.

In one scene, a large cargo ship runs aground on a beach full of people, not into a bridge. 

Although there are visual similarities between the movie’s images and photos of the Baltimore scene, the movie’s story is fictional. In real life, authorities investigating the crash so far believe it was an accident. 

Captain of Dali ship wasn’t a Ukrainian national

Social media claims that an unnamed Ukrainian national was the captain of the cargo ship that struck the Baltimore bridge are inaccurate. The Dali had a crew of 22 Indian nationals on board, said a spokesperson for the company that manages the ship.

PolitiFact Staff Writers Grace Abels, Madison Czopek, Sara Swann and Loreben Tuquero contributed to this report.

RELATED: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott did not ‘threaten’ white people

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