In a world of 140 characters of less, in which messages are encouraged to be copied and retweeted, it is no surprise that Twitter has turned into a game of “Telephone” reminscent of elementary-school lunchrooms. Not unlike those same lunchrooms, Twitter can easily be used to start a quick rumor that easily spreads like wildfire.
No better can this point be made than by the rumors of celebrity deaths over this past holiday weekend. Both Aaron Carter (remember him?) and Charlie Sheen (again, remember him?) were tweeted to be dead over the Christmas weekend. They are, however, both alive and well. This is not the first time celebrities have rumored to have died – even recently. On December 17, Morgan Freeman was rumored via Twitter to be dead, and previously, Miley Cyrus was also rumored to have met her fate.
Rumors will always be rumors, and the rise of such hoaxes is not to say that any one demographic of users on Twitter should be “protected”. Rather, Twitter users and other consumers of social media should take the latest batch of rumors as an opportunity and lesson to think about the source of any news and information – and, for big, breaking news, to take a moment to verify it with a credible source. Simply retweeting gossip, especially without reading the story, only perpetuates this game of “telephone” and may end up affecting your own credibility in the end.
Did you fall for the celebrity gossip death hoaxes on Twitter this weekend? Or do you only use social media to read news from credible sources?