According to Google Trends on November 9, the top searches reflect terms like “Macaulay Culkin dead,” Home Alone, Is Macaulay Culkin dead,” and simply “Culkin,” all because of an internet rumor began the previous day.
That’s because a website with the convincing “MSNBC.website” URL posted an article titled “Breaking News: Macaulay Culkin Found Dead at Age 34,” which generated at least 37,000 Facebook likes and nearly 20,000 Twitter tweets from folks freaking out that Culkin was found dead at such a young age.
This is Google’s cache of the page that began the “Macaulay Culkin dead” rumors, a snapshot of the page as it appeared on November 9, 2014 11:27:15 GMT. The website has changed in the meantime, but the ad-filled website seemed legit to the untrained eye. According to GoDaddy, the registrar of the site which created the fake rumors that Macaulay was dead, the website was created on November 2. Their Amazon Associates referral code, cdltesting-20, can be seen within the website code, along with other Google Adsense ad codes that proves they could’ve earned a pretty penny off of every reader who clicked on the ads in the report claiming Culkin was dead, or clicked through to Amazon to buy a Macaulay movie in his remembrance.
“Sources are reporting that Macaulay Culkin, best known for his role as Kevin McCallister in ‘Home Alone’ and sequel ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,’ has been found dead at the age of 34,” read the shocking report, for a split second fooling this reporter into thinking Macaulay was really dead.
Thankfully, other news reports – like this one about the death hoax from the Inquisitr, cleared up the fact that Macaulay Culkin isn’t dead — but the victim of another death rumor hoax that has previously claimed him dead falsely.
Perhaps it was the details about the false Culkin death story that helped this hoax fool more people than usual.
“Multiple unconfirmed reports say Culkin was found dead Friday afternoon in his Manhattan apartment after police responded to a wellness check requested by a family member. At least one occupant of the Manhattan apartment confirmed the apartment belongs to Culkin but police have not confirmed the man’s identity at this time,” read the fake report.
Macaulay made fun of those “Culkin’s dead!” rumors by posting a Weekend at Bernie’s type of photo, with Macaulay playing dead, as reported by Us Magazine. And yet, with anyone able to purchase “dot website” domain names these days and throw enough advertising dollars at a well-designed page complete with ads like the original fake page did that claimed Culkin was dead, these death hoaxes may continue, if the cost of the revenue gained from the ads outweighed the amount of money it took the webpage to go viral.
Money itself isn’t the only motivating factor. Some webmasters simply love to see how far-reaching a rumor claiming Macaulay Culkin was dead could reach around the world wide web. Either way, Culkin’s fans are glad he’s not dead – but alive and well and joking around about the rumor on Twitter.
[Image credit: “Macaulay Culkin dead” fake MSNBC.website]