Earlier today, it started going around that R&B star Usher had died. I didn’t hear about it til a few hours later, and you know why? Because I work for an entertainment news site, and none of the major celebrity outlets had reported it. In fact, the only site saying that Usher had perished in a car crash was a “publication” called Global Associated News… and if you scroll to the bottom of the article, there’s a disclaimer that says that everything on the site is a work of fiction.
But try telling that to the 700+ people whose tweets unwittingly helped along the Usher death hoax. They dutifully circulated the fake news story over Twitter, adding sentiments like Please say this is fake. Except, they never actually did the research to see if their idol had really passed. A quick Google search reveals that Usher is in the news, but because he’s doing two duets with mentee Justin Bieber. Furthermore, Global Associated News admits clearly on the page that it’s a template where you can input whatever celebrity name you like and it will generate a story of his/her death.
Seriously, guys? This is a generation that spends most of their time online, in close-knit online communities over Twitter, Tumblr, and message boards like Reddit. These are people resourceful enough to create .gifs mere minutes after something funny happens on television, who display their creativity with handmade signs and costumes and passionate fan videos. And they were taken in by a shoddy hoax on a site that doesn’t even resemble a legitimate news source? It’s shocking how quickly people will share “news” without corroborating it.
Furthermore, it’s surprising that people went by some site they’d never heard of and didn’t actually check Usher’s Twitter. He tweeted the above photo with the caption, I must’ve died and went to heaven…Alive and cold kickin ass!! URIV
Weirdly enough, the original hoax article has over 10,000 Facebook likes. I hope this is an example of the ironic like, where the readers knew that it was a fake and they were amused so many people bought into it. But if not, then Usher better watch his back.