It seems like every week there's a new death hoax on the internet. Right now, half of Twitter is mourning the loss of Morgan Freeman. Last week, Bill Cosby met his fake death. Eddie Murphy, who is finally seeing a little bit of a career revival, has been killed at least three times this year.
And no, black actors aren't the only ones being killed off on Twitter. Robert Pattinson, Adam Sandler, Reba McEntire, Reese Witherspoon and Russell Brand have all had fake death reports circulate about them at some point this year.
At the Inquisitr I'm cursed with the task of keeping up with internet trends. That means that I see a lot of death hoaxes and now consider myself an expert on the subject. So, for the sake of my sanity, the health of the internet, the collective IQ of the world, and the friends and family of celebrities who were briefly devastated by a fake death report, here are five ways to spot a death hoax.
1.) Where did the story originate? There are several websites on the internet designed to trick people. They publish fake stories in an effort to get quick hits. Global Associated News, for instance, has been behind death hoaxes for Eddie Murphy, Vanilla Ice, Usher, Keanu Reeves, and 50 Cent.
In fact, GNA has a "death hoax generator" that allows you to punch in a celebrities name, pick a story, and send out a death hoax.
TIP: If it comes from Global Associated News it's a death hoax.
2.) What's the story? Freak accidents are called freak accidents because they are freakishly rare. If a celebrity is killed by some extraordinary measure you should look at it with a skeptical eye.
For instance, Reba McEntire was killed this year when she fell off a cliff on a movie set. Reese Witherspoon was stabbed to death and Eddie Murphy was killed while snowboarding in Switzerland.
The above stories all come from the pre-made stories from GNA's death hoax generator.
Here are some of the other stories:
TIP: If it sounds fake it probably is fake.
3.) Speaking of Eddie Murphy... That guy has been killed off multiple times this year. AND, at least two of those times have involved the same snowboarding story. In fact, Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, and Russell Brand have all been killed off while skiing at a resort in Zermatt, Switzerland.
You know that death hoax generator mentioned above...? Yeah, it only has about six stories.
TIP: Don't be fooled by Dejavu. Zermatt, Switzerland is not where celebrities go to die.
4.) Look at the facts. I know, this one's going to be tough. The major "fact" in all of these stories is "so-and-so" has died. That can be hard to evaluate on its own so you need to look at the other "facts?"
For instance, earlier this year there was a report that Reese Witherspoon had been stabbed to death. The story itself should have set your bullsh*t radar but there were also a few clues that showed the story was a fake.
The story was published on August 8th. The story read: "Reese Witherspoon was stabbed to death today. She died on August 10, 2012, at the age of 36…"
Now, you don't have to be a scientist to know that August 8th comes before August 10th and that the story couldn't possibly true.
TIP: If the story is set in the future than it didn't happen in the past.
By the way, Reese Witherspoon getting stabbed is the only acceptable death hoax. Not because I want Reese to die, but because it does create an opportunity for a joke.
Person 1: "Did you here Reese whatshername was stabbed to death?" Person 2: "Witherspoon?" Person 1: "No, with a knife."
5.) If a major celebrity has actually died you are going to see thousands of articles from hundreds of sources flood the internet. If Vanilla Ice is dead, and the only report you can find comes from @Iwritedeathhoaxrumors on Twitter, then it's fake.
If the Associated Press starts tweeting about someone's death you can be pretty sure that they're actually dead.
TIP: Instead of jumping to conclusions, take an extra thirty seconds to do a search and try to find a credible source. The celebrity that was falsely killed will sometimes even turn up to disprove the rumor.
Ok, now that we all know how to spot a death hoax I'm going to assume that this internet fad is officially over. No more death hoax reports... right, internet?