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Faux death reports: latest virtual virus

Online pranksters have found a novel way of procuring hits. Pick a celebrity, start a rumour of him/her meeting with an accident and bingo, you have netizens flooding the web with ‘Rest In Peace’ messages. The latest to fall prey to this ‘faux death’ trend is the sexiest man alive. And yes, he is alive.

tech reviews Updated: Jan 26, 2010 19:40 IST

Online pranksters have found a novel way of procuring hits. Pick a celebrity, start a rumour of him/her meeting with an accident and bingo, you have netizens flooding the web with ‘Rest In Peace’ messages. The latest to fall prey to this ‘faux death’ trend is the sexiest man alive. And yes, he is alive.

The rumour, that infested the Web on Saturday, speculated that Hollywood star Johnny Depp died in a car crash in Los Angeles. The website also showed the image of a crushed car which it claimed was Depp’s. It reported that the Pirates of the Caribbean star was lying among liquor bottles in the car, injured. Social networking websites went into a tizzy with fans devoting ‘RIP Johnny Depp’ messages for three days, before the actor’s publicist clarified that it was a hoax. Fans, now, are spitting venom through Twitter.

User jennyxbball writes, “Johnny Depp is not dead. Why is it a topic?” Another user LizGmaz tweets, “Come on people. You all have to know that this is a stupid and ignorant rumor (sic).”

Others who’ve been declared dead on internet in the past include actor Natalie Portman, singers Eminem, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, hotel heiress Paris Hilton and our very own Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Ash, who was pronounced dead twice (in 2006 and 2009) was also said to have met with an accident. Global Associated News, a section of www.fakeawish.com, ‘reported’ the tragedy. Fans veto the trend. “It’s abominable,” says student Namrata Chawla. Writer Mala Sen concurs. “Trivialising such incidents causes undue panic,” she says.