Waking up to hear you died

Another day, another celebrity death rumour.

This time it was Wayne Knight. I’ll give you a moment to stop and say, “Who?” If I say: Newman on Seinfeld, does that ring a bell at all? I’m still losing half of you. Let’s move on.

It was early on a Sunday morning and I started getting some emails from people asking if the sitcom star was actually killed in a car crash. I wrote back to those listeners of my radio shows and said, “Where did you hear that?” Naturally the answer was: Facebook.

So, right there I thought that if it wasn’t being reported on CNN or TMZ or People.com, it might not be a true story.

Instead it was fake news sites like TMZ Today (also known as eBuzzd), whose website is www.tmz.today, reporting the story. As I write this, Knight’s death is still posted. You’ll also notice they reported Betty White was found dead in her bathtub last month.

What is the takeaway from website like this? People should read the “about us” pages when trying to figure out a site’s credibility. Right on that page it says, “We use this site as entertainment purposes only and you should too. Truth is, if you find stories on eBuzzd shocking or real at all, then you should log off the Internet and go for a run. Basically, don’t take anything serious on eBuzzd!”

But still, it goes back to the question of why? Of all people, why pick Wayne Knight, who by most standards is a D-list celeb? I have reached out to eBuzzd and will update you if they respond to my request for comment.

Initially I thought these schemes were for publicity because the morning of the reports, Knight’s Twitter lit up and he was the centre of attention and making national headlines. He himself was also shocked putting the rumours to rest tweeting, “Some of you will be glad to hear this, others strangely disappointed, but . . . I am alive and well!”

In the end, it’s quite possibly just people hoping to go viral and in fact, the reporting of Knight’s fake death has proven that even unknown entertainment websites just need one scandal to become a household name and get free publicity. I’ve figured out it is not a D-lister looking for the screen time, it’s Internet geeks with no lives!

On a sad side note: there actually was a car crash where a young female died so the story is tragic in that regard.

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