You’ve seen it. We’ve all heard it. Social media and the news are buzzing over reports that a certain celebrity or public figure is dead. Many people have been “slayed” by Twitter, including Jackie Chan, President Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, Cher, Chris Brown, Keanu Reeves, Madonna, Snooki, Jon Bon Jovi, Eddie Murphy and Drake to name a few. But why does this happen so much and who is doing it?
Who is putting out these fake death reports on Twitter? We don’t know. Usually reports of these hoaxes can be traced back to unknown individuals with a small following. Obviously, the real culprits don’t want to be discovered. The goal of these people is just to get the story out there and see how far and fast it can take off.
Why would anyone want to “slay” someone on Twitter? Again, we don’t know. There could be several reasons: (1) It could be a fan who just loves to hate that celebrity. And we all have one. The celebrity you just can’t stand but follow their every move. You hate on them so much you wish they were dead. This fan may wish this celebrity was dead and feel better #RIPing them on Twitter. (2) It could someone just doing it for fun, trying to see how far this story will go. It may be a prankster or someone trying to gain attention off of someone else’s fame. (3) Sad to say but the celebrity’s PR team could be behind the fake Twitter death story. Nowadays, whatever can get you in the news and get people talking is good press. So I wouldn’t put it past some agents and public relations teams putting out fake stories out about their client to gain some attention. The bottom line is we don’t know and never will.
Why is Twitter the go-to spot to spread news? In the past, Twitter was not seen as a way to break news. In other words, the traditional media (local and national news outlets) were the first to tell the world about a news story. Twitter was seen only as a way to disseminate information quickly. Now, all that has changed. Twitter is now a vehicle to break news. As in the cases of Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston, Twitter was credited for breaking the news first to the world. The genius of Twitter is that literally within hours of someone tweeting “#RIP [insert a famous person’s name here]”, hundreds of thousands of people know – whether it’s true or not. Unfortunately for the living celebrities that have been slayed on Twitter, there isn’t much they can do to stop it from spreading.
Do you believe it? The real problem is, when we hear that a public figure has died – especially if we hear it on Twitter or the Internet, we tend not to believe it. Because so many of those Twitter deaths have turned out to be false, no one believes them anymore. However, that doesn’t stop people from planting those fake stories. Unfortunately, Twitter death hoaxes are here to stay. What do you do when you hear that someone has died over social media?