So far these news stories describe people connected with passengers finding digital evidence of those passengers possibly being alive.
Mobile phones: the hardware suggests travelers' machines still working. "Relatives of passengers ... claimed that they were able to call cell phones of their loves ones". Sometimes these calls yielded an audio sign of the other phone being active:
[O]ther relatives in the room said that when they dialed some passengers’ numbers, they seemed to get ringing tones on the other side even though the calls were not picked up.
GPS angle: if "passengers' mobile phones were ringing... The connection should be used to get the Global Positioning System coordinates of the phones' locations, [several family members] said".
Flight crew members' phones also connected: "[Malaysia Airlines commercial director Hugh] Dunleavy said MAS was also trying the mobile phones of the crew members, and that they also rang. "
Social media: some passengers apparently show signs of connection.
One of the most eerie rumors came after a few relatives said they were able to call the cellphones of their loved ones or find them on a Chinese instant messenger service called QQ that indicated that their phones were still somehow online.
The Washington Post article concludes on a tiny, sad tale:
One man said he had convinced two policemen to come to his home Sunday night to witness the active QQ account on his desktop computer. But sometime Monday afternoon, when he wasn’t paying attention, it had suddenly switched off.
Like so many involved, he was now left with even more questions left unanswered. Did the phone’s battery run out? Had sea water damaged it? Was it just a random anomaly of some Internet server? Or was the plane hijacked and still out there somewhere?
These connections are not pleasant for the relatives, friends, and coworkers, despite the survival possibilities they present, because they are incomplete: "Frustratingly for those desperate for some news or sign, messages have gone unanswered and calls were not picked up." Worse, police and the airline aren't helping:
The phantom calls triggered a new level of desperation and anger for some. They tried repeatedly Sunday and Monday to ask airline and police officials about the ringing calls and QQ accounts. However unlikely it was, many thought the phones might still be on, and that if authorities just tracked them down, their relatives might be found. But they were largely ignored.
Longtime Infocult readers will recognize these types of uncanny digital media stories, especially the mobile device and social media angles.