Nelson Mandela was the subject of a cruel Twitter death hoax perpetrated Sunday night. The Twitter breaking news post appeared to come from CNN host Piers Morgan, and it said that Mandela’s spokesman had informed news sources that the 94-year-old anti-apartheid fighter and first black president of South Africa had passed away peacefully in his sleep.
I got the tweet myself, and it was very believable looking. In fact, I tried to look into it, but I wasn’t able to get very far, since I couldn’t find anyone who could confirm Piers Morgan’s information.
There’s a good reason for that. It wasn’t Piers Morgan’s tweet.
Instead, it came from a parody account @piersnorgan that has previously tweeted another hoax Nelson Mandela death report in March. See that “n” instead of the “m” in there? Right. Neither did anybody else who was reading the tweet on a mobile device.
Early on Saturday, Mandela was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria, South Africa with a recurring lung infection.
His condition is serious, and his spokesman Mac Maharaj seemed to be signalling that we should brace ourselves for the possible passing of South Africa’s civil rights hero:
“[T]e most important thing is that we should realize that this is a life that we need to celebrate, even when he’s with us. And we will celebrate it, even when he is not with us.”
Earlier on Sunday, 87-year-old friend Andrew Mlangeni came forward to add this message: “We wish Madiba a speedy recovery, but I think what is important is that his family must release him.”
So the cruel Twitter death hoax saying Nelson Mandela was gone seemed plausible. It quickly attracted 1,300 retweets — including my own, I’m sorry to say.
Piers Morgan, needless to say, isn’t happy either.
This absolutely sickens me, please report the fake account and get it closed down >Nelson Mandela death hoax: smh.com.au/world/nelson-m… …
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) June 10, 2013
Nelson Mandela victim of death hoax on Twitter. Still feeling bad for retweeting. How low can some people go? smh.com.au/world/nelson-m…
— Colin Campbell (@clutterbells) June 10, 2013
For the record, Nelson Mandela is still in serious but stable condition. As for the perpetrators of the hateful Mandela celebrity Twitter death hoax, don’t you have anything better to do?
Clearly, the world is not yet ready to let go of hero Nelson Mandela.
[Nelson Mandela photo by South Africa The Good News via Wikimedia Commons]