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Nov. 22 2009 - 11:46 pm | 605 views | 1 recommendation | 2 comments

The internet says Will Smith is dead

Will Smith, sorry for the red eyes!

Image via Wikipedia

Did you hear the news? The internet said that Will Smith is dead. His very fast car, a Porsche, had flipped over, killing the actor. We know this is true because “Will Smith dead” was, around 4 p.m. on Sunday, the number one searched word combo on Google. Twitter played its part, too, making “Will Smith” a big time trending topic.

Smith, as you may now know, did not flip his car today (if it is indeed a Porsche), nor did he die. So how does erroneous information suddenly catch fire and go viral?

An article earlier today talked about receiver Steve Smith and that he “will play” after being in a car accident. The key words of “will,” “smith,” and “car accident” could have been combined to Will Smith car accident.

No doubt pranksters also hopped on this bandwagon, too. A recent article at Gawker looked into all the people officially pronounced dead on Twitter. They include: Morrissey, Britney Spears, Harrison Ford, Jeff Goldblum, Miley Cyrus (her tour bus did flip this week), Lil’ Wayne, and Kanye West. Indeed, dying on Twitter is something of a compliment these days.

In the age of user generated news, rumor mongering is the common currency. On the other hand, the power of the internet to spread truthful information quickly is undeniable. As was the case in the recent death of a true pop icon.


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    I've published two novels: The Secrets of the Camera Obscura (Chronicle Books), and The Third Eye (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday). I'm currently working as a journalist for AOL's Sphere. For the past three years I also spouted political opinion for AOL's Political Machine, which I also helped edit. My non-fiction has appeared in places like Men's Vogue, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, USA Today, Newsday, Travel + Leisure, GQ (Spain), and Vanity Fair (Italy). I've dabbled with short stories, publishing in Nerve and a few small journals.

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