Seemingly inconsequential information can go viral over the Internet within hours, but if you’re a celebrity, any news — true or not — goes viral within minutes. The power of the Internet, plus a few quick tweets or images about a celebrity being injured or in danger, and before you know it, there’s an obituary. Even though they’re still walking around. Here are 10 celebrities who’ve been falsely reported dead online.
1. Miley Cyrus
Cyrus has been falsely reported dead on three occasions. The first time, Yahoo! posted a story saying the singer had died in a car accident in 2008. Just one month later, a hacker pretending to be Cyrus’ good friend Mandy Jiroux also said Cyrus had died in a car accident, hit by a drunk driver. In 2014, rumors spread the actress had died of a drug overdose. Cyrus disproved the first rumor when she showed up for a New York concert, and Jiroux disproved the second rumor by posting on her personal MySpace page that the singer was fine. And we know the recent rumor is false as Cyrus is happily tweeting away.
2. Britney Spears
When the pop star was reported dead by a Dallas radio station, her fans swarmed the Internet for answers, starting message boards to exchange information and sending emails around the world. There was even a fake BBC website that claimed to have detailed information about the death. Several days after the initial rumor, the Dallas radio station apologized for giving out false information.
3. Lil Wayne
Rapper Lil Wayne suffers from epileptic seizures, and as a result has been mistakenly reported dead on several occasions. However, the rumor of his death that picked up the most speed came in the form of a viral tribute video to the rapper posted Dec. 16, 2013, which required viewers to share it before watching it so naturally, the video spread rapidly. Lil Wayne is alive and rapping.
4. Adam Sandler
Notoriously incorrect website FakeAWish.com reported in December 2010 that comedian and actor Sandler had died in a skiing accident, having struck a tree, been airlifted to a hospital, and died in the hospital. The same story spread again in 2011, and had some people convinced of the actor’s death once again. As we know from Sandler’s many TV appearances since then, he is alive.
5. Norman Reedus
Reedus comes close to dying on every episode of “The Walking Dead,” but he’s survived so far both on the show and in real life. However, on June 1, 2014 a rumor spread over Facebook and Twitter that the actor had died in a car accident. Don’t worry: the zombie-killing hunk is alive and well.
6. Zach Braff
The “Garden State” star is very much alive, but in 2007 a fan obsessed with the show “Scrubs” posted a false news story saying the actor had died of a drug overdose in his Beverly Hills home. Braff quickly posted a video to Facebook disproving the story.
7. Jeff Goldblum
The “Jurassic Park” star was reported dead by a site known for spreading false death reports, FakeAWish.com. According to the site, the actor fell off a cliff while filming in New Zealand. In a tongue-and-cheek reply to the rumor, Goldblum appeared on The Colbert Report several days after his reported death and delivered his obituary.
8. Wayne Knight
The comedic “Seinfeld” actor had to assure his fans over Twitter that he was still alive after he was mistaken for one of the victims in a tragic tractor-trailer accident near the New York-Pennsylvania border. The accident was real, but Knight was not a part of it.
9. Jackie Chan
Chan has found himself in some dangerous situations in the “Rush Hour” films, some of which might cause anyone else to have a heart attack, but Chan suffered no such trauma. However, in March 2011 a fake news site reported the actor had died of a heart attack in Los Angeles while promoting “Kung Fu Panda 2.” The report was full of fake quotes from other actors and announcements of memorial services. Chan is still with us.
10. Oprah Winfrey
The day Oprah Winfrey dies, an entire empire will be left without a leader. That day is hopefully a long way away. A group spread a fake news story saying the media mogul had been found dead in her Chicago home. She wasn’t.