Published On: Sep 18 2013 05:18:59 PM CDTUpdated On: Apr 01 2015 01:00:00 AM CDT
Will Ferrell supposedly died in a paragliding accident in California in 2006, according to a rumor circulated online thanks to a faux press release.
A false tale that Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber had committed suicide in August 2009 proved so popular with the Twitterverse that it popped up again in January 2010. Since then, the online world has seen Bieber gunned down in a New York nightclub, overdosing on cocaine and breaking his neck.
Scientist and educator Bill Nye, aka "The Science Guy," made news when he spoke out against creationism in a YouTube video published on Aug. 23, 2012. Three days later, he was again a trending topic on Twitter, this time sparked by rumors of his death.
Just as Lindsay Lohan was about to begin a 90-day jail sentence (which actually became 14 days due to overcrowding) for a parole violation in July 2010, her Wikipedia page was updated with news of her "death" from a drug overdose. Once Twitter got ahold of the report, it spread like crazy online.
Comedian and pudding enthusiast Bill Cosby openly joked about the first few Internet-spawned rumors of his death, but by the fourth one in the summer of 2010 he was done laughing. As the hoax picked up steam on Twitter, the comedian took to his own account to conform he was still alive, writing, "Again, I'm rebuttaling rumors about my demise."
Miley Cyrus was the supposed victim of a drunken driver while on her way to the set of "Hannah Montana" thanks to friend's hacked YouTube account on Nov. 16, 2008. She was again killed off in December 2009 when British socialite Peaches Geldof tweeted that Cyrus had been killed in yet another fictional car accident.
Here's an important lesson: If you ever hear that a celebrity has plunged to his or her death from a cliff in New Zealand, don't, well ... fall for it. In 2006, Tom Hanks was one of the first celebrities targeted through a prank website allowing users to generate fake celebrity death reports attributed to "Global Associated News," with the report claiming the two-time Oscar-winner had fallen more than 60 feet to his death from the Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand while shooting a film. He was hardly the last though.
Other "victims" claimed by the Kauri Cliffs over the years, according to Global Associated News, have included Tom Cruise in October 2008 …
… Natalie Portman in June 2009 …
… Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in May 2011 …
… and Tony Danza in September 2012.
Perhaps the most infamous celebrity death hoax attributed to Global Associated News was Jeff Goldblum, who was reported to have met his fate on the Kauri Cliffs on June 25, 2009, the same day Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died. In a bit on "The Colbert Report," Goldblum interrupted Stephen Colbert, who was "reporting" on the Twitter-reported death of the "Jurassic Park" actor.
But Global Associated News hasn't limited itself to just New Zealand. Its reach also extends to Austria, which is where Russell Crowe supposedly fell off a mountain in June 2010 and ...
… where Reba McEntire did as well in January 2012.
The prank site also doesn't limit itself to deaths involving stumbles off cliffs and/or mountains either. Charlie Sheen supposedly died in a snowboarding accident in Dec. 26, 2010, as did…
… Avril Lavigne in a Jan. 2, 2011, report, and …
… Christian Slater, also in early 2011, and …
… Adam Sandler in a Sept. 10, 2012, report.
Fake reports from Global Associated News have also killed off Usher in multiple instances, each time in a fictional car accident.
Like Usher, "Harry Potter" star Emma Watson also supposedly died in a car accident, this time in July 2009, according to one Internet death hoax that quickly gained traction.
Jackie Chan has been the victim of a long-running hoax spreading on Facebook through a spam application that he died while performing a movie stunt. The action star even took to his own Facebook account in June 2013 to dispel the rumors by posting a picture of himself holding that day's newspaper and pointing to the date.
When news spread online in 2011 that Jon Bon Jovi had died of cardiac arrest, the singer posted a picture of himself holding a sign that read "Heaven looks a lot like New Jersey."
On Oct. 21, 2009, "RIP Kanye West" became a trending topic online, with many Twitter users tweeting and retweeting the false news that the rapper had died.
Twitter users also retweeted a supposed tweet from CNN reporting that Morgan Freeman had passed away at home on Dec. 16, 2010. The problem was CNN had never reported the story and that Freeman was, in fact, alive and well.
Harrison Ford was filming on the set of his movie "Morning Glory" in New York City when the Twitterverse reported he had supposedly died aboard his yacht off the coast of St. Tropez in the summer of 2009.
In September 2009, reports started circulating online that TMZ had reported Matt Damon had died during a camping trip to California's Palo Verde mountain area. In fact, the actor was promoting a movie at the Venice Film Festival.
A rumor spread in January 2010 that "Twilight" star Taylor Lautner had died of a cocaine overdose after a night spent partying with strippers.
Several fake reports claimed in June 2007 that Paris Hilton had died in jail while serving time for violating her probation on an alcohol-related reckless driving charge. One detailed report even had her stabbed at least seven times.
In September 2012, word spread over social media that "SpongeBob SquarePants" voice actor Tom Kenny had died of cancer. Before the rumor was squashed, images of Kenny photoshopped with RIP messages multiplied at breakneck speed on Facebook.
Hugh Hefner was the target of an online hoax that had the Playboy founder dying of a heart attack on July 11, 2011.
Twitter lit up with false rumors that Rihanna had died in a plane crash while flying to Germany on Jan. 9, 2012.
In the spring of 2012, singer Chris Brown wasn't just killed off on Twitter, but also on YouTube, with users inundating the comments section of just about every music video on his official YouTube channel with messages of mourning.
Paul McCartney was originally "killed off" more than 40 years ago when the whole "Paul is dead" urban legend spread without the help of the Internet. But on March 21, 2012, "RIP Paul McCartney" quickly became a top trending topic on the social media site despite the former Beatle still being very much alive and kicking.
The social network has tried to kill off funnyman Eddie Murphy at least twice, once in December 2010 and again in March 2012, both times with word trending that he died in a snowboarding accident in Zermatt, Switzerland.
A fake replica of the CNN.com news site killed off rapper Eminem in a car crash and had Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich gunned down by an incensed Napster fan over the same weekend in December 2000.