Is it true? Did Bill Cosby die? Is Eddie Murphy deceased? Will the world never again be graced by Alfonso Ribeiro’s Carlton dance? To all the fans out there, breathe easy. These are nothing more than the latest celebrity death hoaxes appearing on Facebook and Twitter.
Over the past few years, many celebrities have supposedly met their end. Here are some of the most common death hoaxes that have circulated throughout social media:
- Cher — said to have died in her home in January 2012
- Will Smith — said to have died in a car accident after his Porsche flipped
- Paris Hilton — died while in jail either by suicide or by getting stabbed by another inmate (both stories circulated)
- Jeff Goldblum — fell to his demise in New Zealand
- Tom Hanks — also fell to his death in New Zealand
- Bill Nye — killed during an experiment that exploded in August 2012
- Morgan Freeman — a Facebook group reported that the actor had died
- Eddie Murphy — died in a snowboarding accident
- Alfonso Ribeiro — died on September 09, 2012
- Russell Brand — passed away during a snowboarding accident in Switzerland
- Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob Squarepants) — reported dead on Twitter on September 09, 2012
To read about the most ridiculous death hoaxes that have been surfacing over the past decade or so, take a peak at the Los Angeles Times article, “Photos: Celebrity death hoaxes.”
Alive… and well
Although all of the above public figures are alive, many of them had to do some damage control. Take Ribeiro, for example. An Eonline article posted by Sierra Marquina on September 09, 2012, titled “Long Live Carlton: Alfonso Ribeiro Not Dead, Tweets He’s Alive,” explains that the actor posted about his rumored demise on Twitter. “I guess FB has a page saying I died. I wonder what people are gonna say at my funeral???” and “It’s crazy how many people are calling me about this rumor.”
In regard to Freeman’s death rumor on Facebook, a CP Entertainment article, “Morgan Freeman Dead 2012: Death Hoax Says Actor Dies Alongside Eddie Murphy, Bill Cosby,” reported, “The Facebook group has been liked by more than 60,000 people.” At first, many fans expressed their condolences — but these soon turned to anger at such a fabrication — while others wrote that it was obviously a rumor since it was not being carried by any national news sources. So far, Freeman’s representatives have not made any statements in regard to the actor’s death claims. Rest assured, however, that the Bruce Almighty star is alive and well.
Recent (death) news
As far back as February, Twitter and Facebook have been falsely reporting celebrity deaths. According to The New York Times article, “Twitter Death Hoaxes, Alive and Sadly, Well” written by Matt Flegenheimer on February 24, 2012, “Just about every day, and often more frequently, Twitter kills a public figure.”
Rumors about celebrity deaths have circulated and have been proven false only to have another public figure reportedly die. At first, many just wrote off these rumors, but then the world lost Whitney Houston — and at the same time rumors of Madonna’s death were being tweeted. Of course, accounts of Houston’s death were factual, and Madonna is very much alive today.
But why tweet or post that a celebrity has died? Flegenheimer explains in his article, “some stars seem to revel in the rumors. When a fan informed @snooki, from MTV’s Jersey Shore, that ‘RIP Snooki’ had been a popular topic this month, she responded, ‘SWeet!!’” But not all stars seem to feel this way.
Take Bill Cosby, for instance, who fell victim to a death hoax in August when a Facebook page, “R.I.P. Bill Cosby,” was created. He had to constantly reassure friends and family that he was alive, explaining on his own Twitter account, “To the people behind the foolishness, I’m not sure you see how upsetting this is.”
Although the recent reported deaths of Cosby, Murphy, Ribeiro and others have been proven false, it is only a matter of time before another celebrity (fictitiously) meets his or her demise. Who will be next? And will you believe the hype — or will you look for more evidence before tweeting your condolences?