On 8 March 2014, a Malaysia Airlines jetliner carrying 239 passengers and crew disappeared somewhere on a redeye flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The years-long but fruitless efforts to find the missing Boeing 777 have resulted, inevitably, in bizarre conspiracy theories, as no official explanation for how the plane vanished or its whereabouts has been offered — not even significant leads.
One outlandish fantasy that has made the rounds is that the plane was taken by space aliens, as demonstrated by an apparent Internet hoax that went viral around the incident’s fourth anniversary. The fake news site Your News Wire published an article reporting that a black box recording had surfaced featuring an eerie message that suggested the disappearance of involved extraterrestrials.
Images have emerged of the wreckage of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, just hours after a Black Box recording surfaced featuring an eerie message.
The message was in military codesign, which translates to: “Danger SOS it is dire for you to evacuate be cautious they are not human sos danger SOS.” The eerie voicemail also gave a series of numbers.
Users started doing their investigations on the meaning behind the “series of numbers.” The numbers when used as coordinates, pointed to a location near Malaysia. Digging deeper, it revealed that it was within the area in the radar where flight MH370 was last seen.
As is typical of Your News Wire’s false reporting, no “black box recording” from Flight MH370 was found, and the “eerie message” it supposedly contained was based on a purported voicemail received by “Ty,” a Twitter user with the handle @strayedaway who has since altered that Twitter account to make it appear to belong to a 15-year-old girl. In the posts about the message, which have since been deleted but are archived, Ty claims a person was taking pictures of him at 3 A.M. from outside his home when he received the strange messages on his cell phone, along with a warning to delete his posts.
In the message, an automated female voice reads off a series of letters in the phonetic alphabet that spell out the message “Danger SOS it is dire for you to evacuate be cautious they are not human.” The message then reads off a series of numbers: 042933964230.
Because of the content of the message and the fact some Internet users have chosen to believe the numbers are coordinates to the region in which the plane is believed to have gone down, the viral voicemail story has been conflated with an all-too-common (but unfounded) conspiracy theory that MH370 was abducted by aliens. As with many viral but completely unfounded stories, the narrative can be found on the message board 4chan.
Although there is no evidence suggesting that the message and the Twitter account associated with “Ty” are anything other than blatant Internet hoaxes, it is easy to see why the story gained such momentum online. Nine percent of Americans polled by CNN/ORC International in 2014 said they believed aliens from another dimension were responsible for the disappearance of the plane. Since then, virtually no new information explaining the loss of the airplane, its passengers and crew has been made public.
In 2015, Wired reported that the wrenching and upsetting lack of transparency by the Malaysian government which withheld key facts in the days after the plane went missing — including that the aircraft may still have been flying when search-and-rescue crews began scouring the area where it was last seen on air traffic controllers’ screens, and that it had been spotted flying dark and off course by military trackers who took no action — has contributed mightily to the rumors and theories:
The blankness of the investigation became an enormous canvas upon which any fear, rationally considered or raving lunacy, could be sketched into a workable, and not disprovable, theory. Ten per cent of Americans, according to a CNN poll, believe the disappearance of an aircraft involved nothing more complicated than an alien abduction.
As of March 2018, the prospect that the mystery surrounding the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will be solved remains, at the very least, uncertain. On 10 January 2018, one year after intergovernmental search efforts coordinated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau were suspended, the Malaysian government made a contract with Ocean Infinity, an American deep sea exploration firm. They began canvassing the Indian Ocean, which is believed to be the airplane’s resting place, on 21 January 2018. Seven weeks into their search, nothing significant has been found.