If there’s one thing the internet loves, it’s spreading misinformation for the memes. In the midst of news flooding (sorry) through the internet about the OceanGate Titan submersible implosion, Five Nights At Freddy’s ended up becoming a part of the story on TikTok. It’s all thanks to a viral audio clip from the games that’s being passed off as “audio of the noises” coming from the missing vessel.
If you’re unfamiliar with the OceanGate Titan situation, on June 18, five passengers took a submersible called the Titan down into the Atlantic Ocean to see the Titanic’s wreckage. The voyage had a tragic end, as two hours into the trip, all communication with the Titan was lost. Debris of the wreck was discovered four days later on June 22, confirming the submersible imploded and all five passengers were killed. In the days between its descent and discovery, search attempts were made that included using Sonar. In doing so, a Canadian P-3 aircraft detected banging sounds initially believed to be from the Titan. Once TikTok got word that there was audio of the submersible, it went to town on making jokes using viral clips, including one based on Five Nights At Freddy’s.
The game audio originates from a fan-made video depicting series’ antagonist William Afton begging his son Michael to let him out of somewhere, and it comes complete with banging on the exit to really sell it. The video was made by YouTuber Squimpus McGrimpus as part of an analog horror game set in the Five Nights at Freddy’s fiction and features a vocal performance by Nolan David.
David’s sound clip begging Michael not to leave him has been a viral clip used on over 30-thousand videos on TikTok, several of which have millions of views. Some of them are comedic, like playing it while a cat is trying to get to its owner through a door, or washing a plush in a washing machine, but completely divorced of any context, it could easily be mistaken for something horrifying, including the voice of someone who was aboard the Titan submersible while it was lost on its voyage to the Titanic’s wreckage.
A video by TikTok user @ayshanepal uses the audio and includes a caption that says it’s “the audio of the noises from the missing Titanic submarine.” Obviously, anyone who knows the audio is in on the joke, but as of this writing, this video alone has over 18 million views on the platform (with several other videos making the same joke), and that means it’s spreading, and it’s spreading to people that don’t know better.
The comments on the video are one thing, full of people who are either in on the bit posting condolences or people who genuinely believe a Five Nights at Freddy’s fan audio is that of those who died on the imploded submarine also posting about how tragic the incident was. But also, there’s the side of the internet we don’t see in the comments section, which is that people will send and show this video to others in full seriousness believing it is actually audio from the lost vessel. Similarly, there are fake screenshots of the game controller used to pilot the ship supposedly surviving the implosion.
The internet is an untameable beast, and jokes are often so contextual and layered that something like this can be impenetrable to anyone who doesn’t know about three or so other references that make it funny. It’s the nature of having all this information at our fingertips. We can’t possibly know everything, and inevitably you’ll come across videos and images you don’t understand or take at face value. But if my mother calls me later this week and tells me she’s heard the audio from the submersible and plays me this video, I’m blaming y’all.
The entire OceanGate saga has been weirdly tied to video games because of reports that the submersible was being operated with an off-brand video game controller. In the time since, modders have been using the entire situation as joke fodder, including immortalizing it in Grand Theft Auto V with a mod.