Betty White is not dead, but anyone taking to social media on Wednesday may have been tricked into thinking the beloved actress and comedian had passed away.
White, who has enjoyed a late-career resurgence after spending decades in the spotlight, was the victim of a death hoax that took root on Twitter this week, one that actually caused her name to be one of the top trending terms of the day. There was a series of reports claiming that Betty White had been found dead, prompting many fans to leave messages of condolences.
But many others saw the death hoax for what it was, and criticized those trying to spread fake reports of Betty White’s death.
Betty White has been a frequent target of the celebrity death hoax, which has exploded as a trend in the last several years. While fake stories about the death of popular celebrities have been around for decades, the prevalence of social media has made the trend particularly popular in the last five years or so, with many of these hoaxes taking hold and garnering major attention.
There are a mix of reasons why these celebrity death hoaxes start and grow popular. Sometimes they are pushed by fake news websites looking to get clicks and earn some ad revenue, but other times the hoaxes appear to be manufactured by a person or group simply looking to see how far they can get a rumor to spread.
Whatever the case, fans of Betty White seemed pretty incensed at using the actress’s life for viral fake news fodder. This is the second or third time that these fake stories have targeted White, and each time they left a big chunk of her fans fooled into thinking she had actually died.
There have been a handful of other celebrities who have been targeted multiple times by these death hoaxes. Actor Will Smith has been “killed” a number of times on social media, as have Adam Sandler and Morgan Freeman. Sometimes the person targeted will even offer a response, though Betty White has not spoken publicly about the recent reports of her death.
There may be a reason why the Betty White death hoax went viral on Wednesday. As Gossip Cop noted, the Betty White death hoax also coincided with a talk show appearance for the actress set to air on the very same night.
“Thankfully, White is 100 percent fine. In fact, as the hoax began to trend, Gossip Cop was told White was sitting in hair-and-make-up at the Late Late Show getting ready to be interviewed by James Corden,” the report noted. “Her episode will air Wednesday night.”
Not only is Betty White still very much alive, but the 95-year-old actress is still dispensing advice on how to make the most out of life. When she celebrated her birthday earlier this year, White shared that she got so far by not taking everything in life too seriously.
“It’s your outlook on life that counts,” White said (via ABC 13). “If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives.”
White also shared that it’s important to keep an open-minded outlook and always look for opportunities to learn new things.
“Don’t try to be young. Just open your mind,” White said. “Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won’t live long enough to find out about, but I’m still curious about them.”
So if you come across a story claiming that Betty White is dead, you can safely just ignore it.
[Featured Image by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images]