Rowan Atkinson is not dead, but anyone who was poking around on Facebook in the past few days may have been fooled into thinking that the Mr. Bean comedian had met his demise.
A viral death hoax circulated on the social media site claiming that the actor had died, with a link appearing to point to the BBC sharing a story that he died of a suicide. The story prompted many people to share their shock an offer condolences to Atkinson’s family. Others went online seeking clarification on the story.
I'm confused! Is #RowanAtkinson dead?! If not, a very sick joke.— Stuart Young (@young_stuart123) July 15, 2016
There are actually several death hoaxes floating around centered around Rowan Atkinson. It’s apparently a very popular pastime for people to write fake news articles imagining that the Mr. Bean actor passed away, as there are a few different variations of the story dating back three years.
One of those comes from the site Linkbeef, a site well known within the death hoax world for spewing out other fake stories of celebrities meeting their demise.
The site has a story claiming that Rowan Atkinson was found dead in an apparent suicide. It’s difficult to imagine anyone would have been fooled by the story, which refers to the British comedian as “US actor and comedian” Rowan Atkinson and claimed that he was found dead in his home… in California.
The Linkbeef report was actually a cut-and-paste copy of another story claiming that Adam Sandler was dead, one that went viral two separate times in the past year. The report also seemed to mix up details about the real-life death of comedian Robin Williams.
His publicist said he had been “battling severe depression”.
In the past he had talked, and even joked, about his struggles with alcohol and drugs.
Atkinson had recently returned to a rehabilitation center to “fine-tune” his sobriety, the Los Angeles Times reported in September.
The local Sheriff’s office said Atkinson was found unconscious and not breathing at his home near Tiburon, north of San Francisco
“At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made,” police said in a statement.
The latest Rowan Atkinson death hoax didn’t stand up much to scrutiny, either. As Snopes noted, the graphic that went viral claimed that the Mr. Bean actor was born in 1995, making him 21 years old. It separately referred to him as a 58-year-old, though Atkinson is actually 61.
Some people caught on to the inconsistencies.
And there you have it Rowan Atkinson has died at the ripe old age of 21 pic.twitter.com/0K89uNeE19— Reeve (@ShaunReeve) July 14, 2016
The Rowan Atkinson death hoax actually served a different function. Instead of aiming for ad revenue from misguided clicks, the latest hoax is what Snopes referred to as a “clickjacking” scam, which directs users to a website that asks them for their Facebook login and other personal information as part of a phishing scam.
[Photo by Jonathan Short/Invision/AP Images]