A new viral hoax is taking the Internet by storm, and it’s a fake report that George Zimmerman is dead. Zimmerman is the Florida neighborhood watchman who was acquitted in the February 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin. This isn’t the first time the Internet has gone crazy with stories of Zimmerman’s death. The latest hoax stems from the site, Channel 23 News, where visitors are immediately welcomed with the words “You’ve been pranked” and “You got owned.” News sites immediately set the record straight and verified that reports of George Zimmerman’s death were false and that Zimmerman was still very much alive.
After Channel 23 News had published the false report, the Internet sprang to life with people tweeting and sharing the news that George Zimmerman was dead. According to the fake story, Zimmerman had died in a horrific and bizarre way, and the details included made it obvious that the story was fake. Channel 23 News is known for being a prank site, but the story has still gone viral. According to the fake news report, Zimmerman was found dead with his head in a toilet bowl in the women’s restroom of an Orlando, Florida Marriot hotel. A security guard was said to have found Zimmerman. Snopes addressed a previous hoax that stated George Zimmerman had accidentally shot and killed himself while loading a gun at a Florida gun range.
Even though the details of the fake news story were bizarre, many people fell for it and shared the story. There are some tips that the public can use to determine whether a story is genuine or fake. First, hoaxes do not come from mainstream news sites, but they are often shared by pages attempting to look like a bonafide news site. For example, with the George Zimmerman death hoax, the story was published on the Channel 23 News site, but if you visit the page, you can quickly determine that this is not a real news site. When you find something on social media, it isn’t enough to just look at the name of the site, but you must also determine where the story originated from and verify the source.
If the website seems fishy, chances are the articles are too. George Zimmerman’s death would be a major news topic covered by many legitimate news sites rather quickly. What did you think when you heard the news that George Zimmerman was dead? Did you believe it? What was your response? Please leave your comments below.
[Featured Image by Joe Burbank/Getty Images]