LOS ANGELES (LALATE) – Morgan Freeman is not dead. But a fake Morgan Freeman’s death report was tweeted Thursday, fabricated to appear as originating from CNN’s Twitter account. Freeman is alive and CNN is investigating how the Twitter mess erupted.
Today’s false celebrity death report is perhaps the most peculiar in recent memory.
Fake celebrity death stories first dominated online activity in 2009. They most often struck teen pop singers and rappers. Few, if any, film actors were the subject of such false celebrity death reports in 2009. The earliest film victims were Tom Cruise and Will Smith.
Now, even a year later, the list of Hollywood film stars struck by such fake death reports is still quite few.
The peculiar characteristic of today’s episode is, not the selection of the victim, but actually the means by which the false report was spread. In 2009, most fake celebrity death reports were sent via online automation, a combination of message boards, online postings and blog commenting. Rarely were the reports ever falsely credited to a news agency. Most often the fact pattern was the same as the previous fake death report: a plane crash, a train crash, or a car crash.
Today, the false report about Freeman was sent, apparently, purely through Twitter re-tweeting, possibly through automation again. The false report originated from no original tweet, but erroneously claimed CNN broke the news. The message read today “RT@CNN: Breaking News: actor Morgan Freeman has passed away in his Burbank home.”
Freeman had not passed and there was no original tweet by CNN. CNN has since tweeted “CNN did not report Morgan Freeman death. Rumor is false. CNN will aggressively investigate this”.