An Internet hoax about the death of British actor Rowan Atkinson has became the top trending topic worldwide on Twitter.
The 57-year-old comedian is the latest celebrity to be the victim of a hoax about their death.
Rumours about the apparent demise of the ‘Mr Bean’ star spread around the globe within hours of a “joke” tweet from a so called “internet troll” on the social networking site.
The hoax even briefly fooled Internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia, which displayed Atkinson’s date of death as 26 February 2012 on his entry page.
Tens of thousands of people latched onto the #RIP Rowan Atkinson hash-tag to express their condolences.
The top world wide trending subject was apparently sparked by a single post from a twitter user based in the Philippines.
“Fresh news from Britain, Rowan Sebastian Atkinson (A.K.A. Mr Bean) passed away this evening,” the Daily Mail quoted Michael Robert Meras as posting the message to his 753 followers.
Within a few hours the rumours had spread around the globe and ignited an Internet frenzy.
Just two hours later, Michael Robert Meras posted another comment saying it was a “joke.”
“OMG! I started the tween RIP Rowan Atkinson, it was just a joke...
“Shutting down now. Sorry guys, RIP Rowan Atkins was just a joke. Sorry for the matter, I never thought it would be that viral,” Meras tweeted.
The Johnny English star is not the first global star to be the subject of a death hoax.
Owen Wilson, Charlie Sheen, Adam Sandler and Eddie Murphy are among a growing list of stars to have been killed off in cyberspace.
They were all said to have been tragically killed in snowboarding accidents, according to rumours, which have circulated around the Internet in recent years.
Morgan Freeman and former popstar Aaron Carter have also been the subject of online death rumours.