Twitter Spreads Fake Celebrity Death News

Jeff Goldblum, Matt Damon, and Harrison Ford most likely still with us, despite what the blogs say

By Owen Thomas
|  Friday, Jun 26, 2009  |  Updated 3:22 AM PDT
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Twitter Spreads Fake Celebrity Death News

FilmMagic

Rachel McAdams and Jeff Goldblum were spotted filming in New York recently -- which makes it hard for him to have fallen off a ciff in New Zealand, as blogs are claiming.

You can't tell who's a real live celebrity on Twitter.

You can't tell who's a dead one, either.

As news of the (real, confirmed) deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson swept the blogosphere on Thursday, so did unconfirmed rumors that Harrison Ford had gone missing from his yacht and Jeff Goldblum had fallen off a cliff in New Zealand.

Unlikely, since both actors were filming a movie in New York this week.

Internet gossips are also claiming that Matt Damon died in a plane crash or a car crash, depending on whom you ask. (Why not make it a car crashing into a plane while you're at it?)

Twitter is trying to combat the problem of celebrity fakesters with so-called "verified accounts," for which the message-broadcasting startups claims to have taken some steps to identify the account owner. Some tech experts question whether this is really possible.

But what we really need on Twitter are verified tweets. The startup's users eagerly rebroadcast -- or "retweet" -- juicy tidbits sent by their friends.

The good news: While Twitterers rarely factcheck before they tweet, they do rapidly work to debunk hoaxes.

The bad news: Some people will believe anything they read. For that, don't blame Twitter. Blame human nature.

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