Amidst the shock and grief amongst Twitterers in reaction to Michael Jackson’s death last week, a number of fake celebrity deaths started trending. One of the main victims of the rumours was Jeff Goldblum.
Now that the dust has settled and the rumours have been debunked, a Scottish blogger has stepped forward to confess that he was the one that ‘killed’ Jeff Goldblum.
In a lengthy ‘confession’, John Skelton details how the prank started.
“As rumours began to spread that (Michael Jackson) might be dead I saw the opportunity to prank two of my friends… The original idea of the prank was to use the Fake a Wish fake celebrity death generator to try and trick them into believing a beloved celebrity had passed away.”
After generating his fake news story, John tweeted “Looks like Jeff Goldblum is dead too”, accompanied by a link to the spoof news. In retrospect, it’s amazing that anyone believed it. The short ‘news’ piece has several grammatical errors and there’s even a disclaimer at the bottom of the page making clear that it’s not real.
John’s post goes on to chart the spread of the rumour via retweets, even making it on to Australian TV where it was reported as fact. Journalists may claim they’re more rigorous at fact-checking than bloggers are; that’s obviously not always the case! You can read the full story at John Skelton’s blog. While this is the only post on his blog (which may cause some to doubt the story’s veracity) his story checks out. He was the first to tweet about Jeff Goldblum’s death on the 25th of June.
This all goes to show just how easy it is to fool lots of people very quickly via Social Media. We’ll undoubtedly see many more examples of this in the future and some will undoubtedly be bigger and more widely spread. The potential for ‘Information Terrorism’ is vast. No need for a bomb, just feed people the right lie and watch their panic lead to mass confusion and disruption.