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Solar flares or sabotage: TikTok has theories about what happened with today’s massive cell phone outage

What could it be?


Marlon Ettinger


Posted on Feb 22, 2024

Massive cell phone outages across America are being reported today by customers of AT&T, Cricket Wireless, Verizon, T-Mobile, Consumer Cellular, Boost Mobile, US Cellular, and Straight Talk Wireless, according to data from Downdetector, an online platform that monitors connectivity.

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While some of the networks have acknowledged that they’re aware of the outage, no official explanation has been released yet. T-Mobile said that its network hadn’t gone down, and that reports from their customers probably came from them trying to connect to users on other networks, reported the Associated Press.

In the absence of a detailed technical explanation coming out from the companies, some people online have speculated that recent solar flares were behind the outages.

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“Cell Phones not working due to Solar Flare or “Space Weather,” read the caption on one TikTok posted by @shipwreck_show.


Cell Phones not working due to Solar Flare or “Space Weather”

♬ original sound – Shipwreck

“We woke up to our cell phone not working and getting an alert saying that we weren’t going to be able to call 911,” the TikToker explained, reacting to a video drawing a connection between the outages and recent space weather activity.

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According to a statement released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Sun emitted two solar flares in the past couple of days.


“While solar flares can affect communication systems, radar, and the Global Positioning System, based on the intensity of the eruption and associated phenomena, it is highly unlikely that these flares contributed to the widely reported cellular network outages,” the statement claimed.

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Some posters doubted that the solar flares were real at all, and claimed that report trying to link them to the outages were “dry-runs” to shut down nationwide communications, possibly ahead of the 2024 election.

“This is complete and utter horseshit… They are laying the groundwork, the narrative, for now two possible ‘Black Swan’ events..” posted @MJTruthUltra on X.

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“there are no ‘solar flares,’” @Quickwitnitwit added.

“Yeah, I call bullshit,” @MJTruthUltra agreed.

“A solar flare that strategically spreads itself across the country to only have an effect on certain cell phone providers in certain geographical locations?” posted @ISPInc2. “I’m calling bullsh*t.. maybe the Russians are finally blowing the deep sea cables?”

Other posters, however, brought up the solar flares to push back on the idea that the government was behind it.

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“I’ve seen a lot of people say … that it’s the government that’s doing it, posted @sifuricknb on TikTok, “but something popped up from one of our local meteorologists.”

“So apparently there was a very strong solar flare that went off right about the time that all the cell services went down,” the TikToker continued. 

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While acknowledging they couldn’t be sure the reason for the outage, and speculating that it could also be a cyberattack or even the government, he said the incident had “set a lot of us back to ‘Little House in the Prairie Times.’”

“I tried to go to Dutch Brothers and my app wouldn’t work,” he explained, talking about a coffee chain, “I would have had a free drink and it wouldn’t load so they’re like, ‘I got you bro, I got you,’ so yeah, I couldn’t even use my app to get a freakin’ Dutch Brothers. We’re in trouble bro.”

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*First Published: Feb 22, 2024, 2:35 pm CST

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