By Darnella Dunham
Twitter has killed dozens of celebrities, and it proves that you should definitely not believe everything you read. The lack of credibility from the sender of these false rumors doesn’t stop them from getting retweeted and going viral. And unfortunately, death hoaxes on Twitter have become commonplace.
But Twitter isn’t all bad when it comes to getting the news about the death of a celebrity. When Heavy D died on November 8th, Twitter was the outlet at the forefront of spreading the sad news.
Nevertheless, Twitter users are way too eager to spread reports of unconfirmed deaths. Here’s a look at some of the most notable non-dead Black people who, if you believe anything you read on Twitter, died.
Fox News was behind a series of tweets that had its followers believing that President Barack Obama had been assassinated this year on the 4th of July. This false tweet was bad, but it was given even more legitimacy when it was followed up by another tweet wishing Vice President Joe Biden “the best of luck as our new President of the United States.” The conservative news channel claims its Twitter account was hacked, and that none of the Fox News employee sent out any of the controversial tweets.
Twitter was the social media that quickly spread the rumor that the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin had died from pancreatic cancer in December of 2010. In actuality, she was recovering from an undisclosed surgery, and has since rebounded as a thinner and healthier-looking version of her previous self.
Since Eddie Murphy is a comedian, it’s seems like the person who started this Twitter death hoax about him wanted to maintain the funny. According to the well-circulated tweet, Murphy “died” this year as Denzel Washington allegedly did: snowboarding in Switzerland. The reports of Murphy’s death even reach hashtag status on Twitter.
Probably the celebrity who’s been reported to be dead on Twitter the most (at least four times), Bill Cosby should be used hearing false rumors about his death via the social network. The latest mistweet was sent in the summer of 2011, and caused his daughter to call and check on him. Instead of bashing Twitter, Cosby sent a tweet stating, “To the people behind the foolishness, I’m not sure you see how upsetting this is.”
Denzel Washington was reported to be dead on Twitter after a vicious snowboard accident in Switzerland. The fact that Washington was filming a movie in Atlanta quickly killed the rumor.
After getting an endless amount of bad press for stealing Taylor Swift’s shine at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West became the latest celebrity reported to be dead via Twitter. Tweets saying West had been killed in a car accident went viral, and even made it to his then girlfriend Amber Rose’s timeline. She shut down the credibility of the rumors by tweeting, “This ‘RIP KanyeWest’ topic is not funny and its NOT TRUE! He has people like myself and his family that love him very much.”
Morgan Freeman’s death by Twitter occurred in 2010, and the root of the mistruth was sourced as coming from CNN. Blame it on former tweeter @originalcjizzle, who was discredited by CNN when the news organization issued an official statement and promised to “aggressively investigate this hoax.” Before deleting his or her account, @originalcjizzle tweeted, “I had no intention of things turning out this way.”
Not only Americans are falsely reported to be dead on Twitter. Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela experienced a Twitter death in January 2011 thanks to @lebolukewarm. This user has since deleted his or her Twitter account after angering followers for spreading this lie.
The Twitter death of Ruby Dee circulated because someone simply mistweeted. Instead of telling followers that beloved rapper Heavy D had passed away, the legendary actress was said to be dead. Fortunately, the tweets about Ruby D weren’t true. Sadly, the tweets regarding Heavy D’s untimely demise were.
Twitter reported Tiger Woods to be dead in November, but at the time, he was in Sydney, Australia playing in a golf tournament. Not only was Tiger alive and well, he was playing some of the best golf of his career since his 2009 sex scandal.
Will Smith was first reported as dead on the Internet in 2007 from a car crash. But in May of 2011, fake Twitter death rumormongers got creative by offing him from a drug overdose, by falling off of a cliff, and a car accident. The death rumors have subsided, but the divorce rumors live on.