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Reports about my death are greatly exaggerated

Comments Off on Reports about my death are greatly exaggerated 12 January 2018

Reports about my death are greatly exaggerated

Until the last few days, I had never heard of Rebekah Shelton. That was until I read just about everywhere that she had died. This came as a bit of a surprise to Ms Shelton who, it transpired, had actually been on holiday and returned home to find her computer account had been hacked. It was not just some oddball website that carried the so called news. Even the BBC and countless other news organisations reported on her premature passing at the age of 32.

It takes a bit of a sick mind to announce the death of someone who hasn’t died. Imagine the stress caused to her family and friends. When responsible news organisations carry this kind of news – if news is what you call it – then people are inclined to believe it and, indeed, share the news on social networks. This was not the only bogus death announced this week.

The actor Malcolm Hebden, who played a character called Norris Cole on Coronation Street, was pronounced dead earlier this week by an obscure American website and suddenly the news was all over social networks, shared by the fans of yet another TV personality of whom I had never heard. This time I had a little less sympathy for those who shared the fake news of Hebden’s passing because a single one-off source, in this case the Florida Times, of which again I had never heard, was not sufficient verification that the man had died. I’d have at least tried to verify the news with a news organisation of which I actually had heard. But then, plenty of people did that with Ms Shelton.

There are a few lessons to be learned here. Just because something appears on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true or real. How many chances have you had to win a Campervan from what are actually click bait sites, inadvertently recommended to Facebook friends? Treat stories such as these at least initially with suspicion and think twice before sharing a report of someone’s death, just in case it isn’t true. This sort of thing doesn’t happen often, but it happens often enough. Someone’s having a sick laugh at creating fake news about someone dying. Don’t encourage them.

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