When my friend first learned how to use Twitter, I thought he was misconstruing it with another site like ChristianMingle or FarmersOnly because all he talked about was how many women he was meeting on there. The guy’s not particularly good looking, witty, or tech-savvy so I had to check it out for myself. As it turns out, all the ‘women’ that were direct messaging also conveniently had websites that demanded credit card information for my friend to see more (which he obliged.) While these types of Twitter ‘misleads’ happen every day, they don’t have the global scale that some of the top Twitter hoaxes have.
Celebrities Snowboarding in Switzerland
Apparently Zermatt, Switzerland is one of the most visited resorts by celebrities, but it’s also really deadly. So far Brad Pitt, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, Mickey Rourke, Channing Tatum, Denzel Washington, Jim Carrey, and more have reportedly met their demise as first ‘reported’ by Twitter. Obviously these have all proven false and circulated largely because of the website fakeawish.com. If someday a celeb actually does die on the mountain he or she could suffer the ‘boy who cried wolf’ fate and a publicist will have to scramble to makeup a fake – real death.
Bill Cosby Passes On…Repeatedly
At least the celebrities who ‘died’ snowboarding in Switzerland only had to pass on once because poor Bill Cosby is burning through his nine lives on Twitter. Cosby has been a part of a top Twitter hoax involving his death at least six times and it seems he’s one of the few stars that actually gets bothered by the rumors. Cosby has taken to Larry King Live in the past to discredit the rumors and often sends out Tweets soon after his death is trending to ensure people he’s still living life and loving Jell-O pudding pops.
“Being called dead does not make Bill Crosby happy”
Me and Nicki-Nicki Get Married Today
It may be Drake’s line in Nicki Minaj’s song “Moment for Life‘ but on Twitter this rumor took on a life of it’s own. Unlike other top Twitter hoaxes, the marriage of superstar singers Drake and Nicki Minaj was actually started by the celebs. It serves as good proof that Twitter followers will believe anything when Drake tweeted, “Please refer to @nickiminaj as Mrs. Aubrey Drake Graham and dont stare at her too long. She’s finally mine. 🙂” because Drake’s mom even believed the story was true…even though it ultimately was not.
Bald for a Nude Bieber
By being one of the biggest superstars in the world, Justin Bieber often finds himself at the center of Twitter hoaxes, even though he’s not always just an innocent bystander. In the past Twitter has reported that Bieber’s ex-girlfriend was stabbed by an insane fan and that the singer had gotten his girlfriend pregnant. One of the larger trends was #baldforbieber in which 4Chan members posted a Tweet that was supposedly from the verified Entertainment Tonight account that stated fans were shaving their heads in support of Bieber, who had apparently been diagnosed with cancer that morning. The topic trended quickly and pictures of fans who had shaved their heads soon surfaced. Even though the Tweets were a hoax, the hair would grow back for most Bieber fans…now if one of his fans was a balding middle aged guy then we might have some problems.
Justin Bieber himself actually used his Twitter popularity to shadily promote a new single. A Tweet from Bieber’s account was sent out saying that his laptop had been stolen backstage at a recent concert. The singer soon fed fuel to the fire by Re-Tweeting news articles that talked about nude photos being leaked from the missing computer. Bieber then took to his account to say only that something was going to be exposed Friday at noon, which of course was the debut of his new single with Nicki Minaj title “Beauty and the Beat.” The shouts heard around the world were both sighs of relief and blood-curdling anguish from teen girls…and a few balding middle age men.
Missing Teen Kara Alongi
While some top Twitter hoaxes are in good fun or lighthearted, the rumors that New Jersey teen Kara Alongi was missing startled people across the USA. It began when Alongi posted a Tweet that somebody was in her house and her followers should call police. Why she wouldn’t just call the cops instead of Tweeting remained a mystery but nonetheless the Social Media Police sprang into action and soon K-9’s were scouring the girls home. There was no sign of foul play and records of a call from the family home to a taxi company right after the Tweet alerted authorities that the whole thing may be a ruse. Two days after the Tweet she was found walking along the Jersey Turnpike and admitted the whole thing was staged…she got to keep her over 100K followers after the incident but had to promise never to do it again.
Fake Pictures of Hurricane Sandy
It’s true that Hurricane Sandy was a mega-storm, but not as bad as some Twitter users made it seem. Like many disaster hoaxes, it starts off with somebody claiming to be on the ground floor, breaking news as it happens. In Hurricane Sandy people reported that the New York Stock Exchange was flooded and that the mayor was trapped among other things. Soon photos of the storm started circulating and the hoax took on a life of it’s own. The damage was extremely severe but the hoaxers were feeding on people in a time of excitement and worry just to benefit themselves.
Manti Teo Girlfriend Hoax
In the 2012 football season, everybody fell in love with Manti Te’o. The star Notre Dame linebacker lost his beloved grandmother only to find out later that same day that his girlfriend succumbed to her battle with leukemia. It turns out another person who fell in love with Te’o was the guy who created the fake persona of Manti’s girlfriend and played along with the top Twitter hoax for years. Soon after Notre Dame lost the championship game to Alabama, the hoax was revealed. It’s a little weird that Manti never had a chance to meet his girlfriend, but maybe that’s what made the relationship work. See how to avoid being catfished on Facebook.
It’s not 100% clear why users start these online hoaxes. It could be to attain the followers, it could be to degrade famous celebrities, it could be underlying mental illnesses. One thing’s for certain, in the quest to break news on current events people will often ignore something that’s very important in journalism – facts.