Among commonly shared aspects of the rumor was a graphic reading, “NASA warns of ‘internet apocalypse’ that could disable the internet for months”:
Although versions of the image above were extremely common, they lacked any sort of watermark or indicator of their source. A June 21 2023 tweet featured the same image and racked up millions of views:
In addition to the image, posts about the “NASA says no internet” rumor shared another similarity — they rarely linked to any sort of corroboration of the claim. That absence of corroboration coupled with the claim itself (that the entirety of the internet could be “disabled” globally) was suspicious due to the scope of the rumor.
We also noted the way the NASA rumor was getting shoehorned into a previous “internet shutdown” claim that circulates in perpetuity with minor changes (for example, the presumptive internet shutdown might last “months,” “two weeks,” “ten days,” or “forever”) to ensure that it continues to frighten readers. One of the previous versions of this particular rumor popped up just after January 6 2021, attached to disgraced former U.S. President Donald Trump and disseminated by adherents of weaponized conspiracy theory QAnon. That claim went as follows:
We need 100% of people indoors to see what the US military is going to broadcast on everyone’s TV Sets worldwide. It is going to be very painful but we can no longer have people divided. Around Sunday/Monday POTUS will Tweet “My Fellow Americans The Storm is Upon us. We will go to FULL GLOBAL MARTIAL LAW.” He will most likely be on board AF1 when he sends out 7 PRESIDENTIAL MSGS to everyone’s phones and TV sets worldwide on the Emergency Broadcast System. From there all Global Militaries via US Military will shut down all Media, Internet. Phones and all TV programming (EMERGENCY SERVICES WILL STILL HAVE THEIRS) so the US military can broadcast 10 days of 3×8 hr sessions of video confessions, military tribunals, lots of evidence for the scandals listed in the STORM article. While this is happening they will be removing Governments Worldwide and making Global Arrests(500 thousand indictments) GESARA/NESARA will be activated which will be a full RE-WIRING of Planet Earth.
Our article debunking that claim can be found here:
As for the image, the oldest iteration we located was shared to Instagram on June 10 2023 by @factsdailyy. That iteration may have been the source; subsequent iterations left off the content of the attached status update:
What would you without internet?
A quest to stop a future “internet apocalypse” brought on by solar storms has been taken up by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe.
Having successfully traversed the solar wind, the probe has collected vital information on severe storms that might prevent internet access for months or even years.
By understanding the physics underlying solar wind, scientists are seeking to foresee and lessen the effects of solar storms, which may seriously harm communication networks and fry the entire global internet.
To be clear, the June 10 2023 Instagram post linked above also lacked any links to corroborating information, such as a news article from a credible source. However, the status update provided nuance that was left out of the graphic: that NASA’s Parker Solar Probe “collected vital information on severe storms that might prevent internet access for months or even years.”
On June 26 2023, Google News autocompleted searches for “NASA” with “NASA internet” or “NASA internet outage,” a suggestion that led searchers to articles reiterating the rumor circulating on social media platforms. Searching for “NASA Parker Solar Probe,” however, returned relevant news about the actual mission and activities of that probe.
On June 23 2023, Space.com’s “NASA’s Parker Solar Probe starts summer with 16th swoop by the sun” mentioned solar storms and their impact on the internet:
The Parker Solar Probe launched in August 2018 and was placed into a highly elliptical orbit around the sun. During its perihelion passes through the corona, the spacecraft can dip below 6 million miles (9.6 million kilometers) above the sun’s surface, which is known as the photosphere.
The spacecraft is scheduled to make 24 close passes of the photosphere during its primary mission, collecting data scientists will use to improve stellar models and the ability to forecast space weather events that can pose a danger to satellites and power grids.
Technology news site Ars Technica reported on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe on June 19 2023. That article made no mention of the “internet,” much less an “internet apocalypse”:
While Parker tried to determine the origins of the solar wind before, it was in the wrong position, focused on a region of the Sun’s far side that was too distant to see what was going on in these “coronal holes.” There was also a chance it wouldn’t capture much activity because it was launched in 2018 during a solar minimum (the period with the least action). Solar maxima (the period with the most action) occurs every 11 years; the next solar maximum will be in 2025, but we haven’t had to wait for the maximum to catch some coronal holes.
Understanding where the solar wind originates should help us predict when it is headed our way and how quickly it will reach our planet. Knowing to plan ahead may enable us to protect satellites, electrical grids, and other sensitive equipment. This is especially important as we approach solar maximum when superfast gusts of solar wind are most likely to hit Earth.
On June 7 2023, Space.com published “NASA’s sun-kissing Parker Solar Probe finds source of ‘fast’ solar wind.” Once again, the article explained that NASA’s Parker Solar Probe sought (among other things) information about how to “better predict solar storms” alongside potential disruptions to “communication and power infrastructure”:
NASA’s sun-touching Parker Solar probe has flown close enough to our star to spot the fine details of the solar wind — including its origin, “coronal holes” in the sun’s atmosphere.
Armed with this information, scientists may now be able to better predict solar storms that can supercharge auroras over our planet but can also disrupt communication and power infrastructure and pose a threat to satellites, spacecraft and even astronauts.
The Parker Solar Probe tracked the solar wind — a stream of charged particles flowing continuously from the sun — back to where it is generated, a new study reports. This allowed researchers to see characteristics of the solar wind that are lost as it exits the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, and before it reaches Earth as a relatively uniform stream.
In early June 2023, a rumor that NASA “warns of an internet apocalypse” (or “NASA says no internet”) spread virally on Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, and Instagram. An image decoupled from its source was a large part of the rumor — which carried elements of previous “no internet” narrative campaigns — and an early iteration of the claim indicated that data collected by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe “collected vital information on severe storms that might prevent internet access for months or even years.” NASA did not warn of “no internet,” and the rumor appeared to originate with an “orphaned” graphic.
Update, September 25 2023: In September 2023, a markedly similar rumor about October 4 2023 and the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS)/Emergency Alert System (EAS) began circulating on platforms like Reddit:
Of the two Reddit posts, the first had additional text explaining the gist of the rumor:
Has anyones [QAnon influenced friend or family member] warned you about this yet? My qMom just told me in a panic, that on October 4th , Joe Biden will use cell phones to attack the whole population of the United States, something about a frequency that can harm and kill. She told me that I need to wrap my cell phone in aluminum foil and place it in the microwave for the day, I shit you not.
I just cannot believe it has gone this far. I want someone to wake me up and tell me it was all just a bad dream.
As for October 4 2023, it was true that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced a test of the EAS scheduled for that date. On August 3 2023, FEMA issued a press release, “FEMA and FCC Plan Nationwide Emergency Alert Test for Oct. 4, 2023.” It read in part:
FEMA, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) this fall.
The national test will consist of two portions, testing WEA and EAS capabilities. Both tests are scheduled to begin at approximately 2:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Oct. 4 .
The WEA portion of the test will be directed to all consumer cell phones. This will be the third nationwide test, but the second test to all cellular devices. The test message will display in either English or in Spanish, depending on the language settings of the wireless handset.
The EAS portion of the test will be sent to radios and televisions. This will be the seventh nationwide EAS test.
FEMA and the FCC are coordinating with EAS participants, wireless providers, emergency managers and other stakeholders in preparation for this national test to minimize confusion and to maximize the public safety value of the test.
The purpose of the Oct. 4  test is to ensure that the systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on the national level. In case the Oct. 4  test is postponed due to widespread severe weather or other significant events, the back-up testing date is Oct. 11 .
A September 2023 AFP article about the rumors quoted physics professor Eric Swanson on the risk posed by cell phone alert sounds:
“This would just be like receiving a text message — that instructs your phone to make the loud and somewhat annoying sound and display a message,” said Eric Swanson, a professor of physics at the University of Pittsburgh who has evaluated wireless safety for mobile carriers, in a September 21 email.
“Receiving the message is not different in terms of energy or radio waves than any other message.”
According to FEMA, the nationwide EAS test scheduled for October 4 2023 would last for approximately one minute. Similar nationwide tests occurred in 2011, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, before tests were temporarily paused due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.