Reports that Avril Lavigne may be dead spread through the internet this week, reviving a bizarre internet conspiracy theory that the singer actually committed suicide more than a decade ago and has been replaced by a lookalike.
The story got new life thanks to Buzzfeed's Ryan Broderick, whose recent report about the story seemed to give it another set of legs.
The story comes back to a blog called Avril Esté Morta, which claims that sometime around 2002 or shortly afterward, Avril Lavigne actually killed herself and was replaced by a doppelganger. It even went so far as to include side-by-side comparisons to show that the "new" Avril was a fake.
The blog actually had a deeper purpose, showing just how easily a conspiracy theory can be manufactured and how easy death hoaxes can spread online, but it was slipped in near the end (and written in Spanish), leading many people to miss it entirely.
The report that Avril Lavigne is dead seems to prove that point all too well. Many people shared the story on Twitter, seemingly believing the odd news.
But this is actually not the first time that a false report has claimed Avril Lavigne is dead. A more conventional celebrity death hoax surfaced in 2013, claiming that she died during a ski trip.
"The singer/songwriter & novice snowboarder was vacationing at Whistler Blackcomb ski resort located 125 km north of Vancouver, in British Columbia, Canada with family and friends," the story claimed, via Gossip Cop. "Witnesses indicate that Avril Lavigne lost control of her snowboard and struck a tree at a high rate of speed."
"Avril Lavigne was air lifted by ski patrol teams to a local hospital, however, it is believed that the musician died instantly from the impact of the crash," the story continued.
The Canadian singer is one of many to fall victim to a death hoax. In the last five years or so, many websites have popped up with the sole purpose of spreading fake celebrity news, which often goes viral and leads to thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, of clicks.
Some of these sites allow users to submit their own stories, resulting in crude accounts that still somehow fool people and go viral.
That appeared to be the case earlier this summer, when a site called MSMBC.co claimed Arnold Schwarzenegger was found dead. The report (via Snopes) was filled with typos and grammatical errors.
"Arnold Schwarzenegger was found dead at his Las Angeles [sic], California home. Schwarzenegger was 68 years old.
"Police responded to the L.A. home after receiving a 911 emergency call for a "unresponsive male". Upon entering the residence, police found Schwarzenegger's deceased body in his bed.
"We found Mr. Schwarzenegger in his bedroom deceased around 9:30 pm on Wednesday," said Las Angeles Police Chief James J. Freda [sic] in a brief statement to Local 4 CBS News [sic]. "We found no reason to believe foul play was a factor in his death but intent [sic] to perform a full investigation."
Not only is Avril Lavigne most definitely not dead, but her career appears to be thriving as well. The singer has been back in the studio working on a new album, with an Instagram photo suggesting that it may have a country tilt.While Avril Lavigne is definitely not dead, she has been through quite a health scare in recent years. In 2014, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease, a chronic ailment that took many months for her to fully recover. Lavigne said it was the "worst time of her life," and that it took many trips to specialists and plenty of convincing on her part to people who doubted that she was really sick.