Jaden Smith is not dead, but anyone who has perused Facebook in the past week or so may have fallen victim to what is one of the longest-running celebrity death hoaxes in recent memory.
The young actor and son of Will Smith was pronounced dead online last week, with a viral report spreading that Jaden Smith had committed suicide. Like many death hoaxes before, this one spread in the form of a Facebook post that gets people to click on a link that then gains access to their personal information, the U.K.’s Mirror noted.
“The hoax – which involves getting permission to post on the user’s page on the social media site – has been spread by people noticing it on their newsfeed as more and more people click on the fake link.
“The spam apps lured many users in, but Jaden – who is yet to respond to the rumors – is alive and well four years after a similarly cruel prank.”
As the report implied, Jaden Smith is a frequent member of the celebrity death hoax club, with a series of rumors going viral over the course of the last few years claiming that the young actor has died. His father, Will Smith, has been hit a number of times as well.
While the intention behind the Jaden Smith death hoax appears to be something of a phishing scheme for the personal information of Facebook users, other celebrity death hoaxers seem to have stranger motivations. Some of the viral reports over the last five years or so have originated on satirical news websites aiming to get clicks, while others seem to be from people who are simply trying to see if they can get a rumor started.
That appears to be the case with one of the most famous death hoaxes, the 2010 report claiming that actor Morgan Freeman had died. As Slate discovered, the report started with one Twitter user who seemingly wanted to start some rumors.
“Blame it on @originalcjizzle, a guy with nearly 1,500 followers who is fond of calling people ‘jive turkeys,'” the site noted.
Before his death hoax swept across the internet, Jaden Smith was making headlines for his apparent relationship problems. Just hours after he and girlfriend Sarah Snyder showed up for the New York premiere of Suicide Squad, a picture showed up online showing Snyder in bed with another man.
To make matters worse, Hollywood Life noted that the other guy, a photographer named Gunner Stahl, actually tagged Jaden in the photo.
“The picture has since been deleted, but according to screen grabs it was posted at 10:16pm on August 1. In the picture, which looks like it may have even been taken by Sarah, she is closest to the camera and covered up by a white comforter. Her shoulder appears completely bare, but Gunner, who is laying beside her furthest from the camera, is wearing a t-shirt. Like we said: totally sketchy.”
It may not be too surprising to Jaden’s parents. As Hollywood Life pointed out, Jada Pinkett Smith was reportedly very worried about the relationship after learning about Snyder’s 2013 arrest for breaking and entering and another in 2015 for allegedly stealing a handbag — when she was accused of nabbing a Hermes purse worth $16,000. Snyder was charged with felony grand larceny.
So while Jaden Smith may not have a great love life at the moment, at least he’s not dead.
Not everyone has gotten the memo that Jaden Smith is not dead. Though his death hoax has been floating around for about a week now, there are still many people sharing the news of his alleged passing.
[Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Images]