It seems like every month there’s a new celebrity death hoax making the rounds on social networks. The latest victim of this morbid trend is TV talk show host Jimmy Fallon. Over on Twitter, the hashtag RIP Jimmy Fallon has been spreading like wildfire in the last couple of days. Since Twitter is notoriously such a chaotic place, it’s unclear how the hashtag started trending, but if you’re a user of the popular social network, you no doubt have already seen a flood of people retweeting the phrase ‘Rip Jimmy Fallon’ coupled with photos of a variety of other late night show hosts and comedians like Steve Harvey, Jimmy Kimmel, and James Corden.
As it would appear, Twitter users seem to be having some kind of macabre, twisted fun at Fallon’s expense. Join Facts Verse as we investigate how this bizarre trend got started and what Fallon has been doing to try and combat it.
Is Jimmy Fallon Dead? Well, no. But this latest online death hoax is yet another clear example of why you shouldn’t simply believe every sensational thing you hear or read. Stick around to learn about several other stars who have fallen victim to this puzzling trend while seeing how they responded to the rumors of their demise.
The RIP Jimmy Fallon Hoax Explained
We live in a day and age when actual facts are a rare commodity. Take the US democratic process for example. Since the 2020 election, there has been a growing number of Americans who have completely lost faith in the nation’s elections. Now, we’re not going to attempt to tackle such a touchy topic in this video as we aren’t here to get too political, but it’s obvious that the line between fact and fiction has become increasingly blurred in recent years.
With the rise of the internet and social media, anyone, anywhere, with any agenda, can perpetuate whatever idea or information they want regardless of whether or not the “knowledge” that they’re spreading is actually true.
During the early days of the internet, people were saying that humankind was entering into a brand new, optimistic, and egalitarian ‘information age’, but as time has gone on, it’s become increasingly clear that were actually living in the ‘disinformation age’.
Because of how quickly information can spread these days and how algorithms prioritize content that stimulates user engagement, we’ve begun to collectively drift away from consuming info that is truthful. Simply put, the more absurd, sensational, or alarming information is, the higher the chance that it will go viral.
Gullibility is at an all-time high. People have always fallen victim to hoaxes, but it seems like in recent times, it’s no longer just your weird, drunk uncle whose spouting off absurd conspiracy theories and questionable “news stories” at the Thanksgiving table. No, as all of you have probably witnessed firsthand by now, just about everyone at this point have fallen victim to at least one internet hoax.
I’ll freely admit that a few years ago, I became briefly convinced that Justin Bieber had suffered a fatal drug overdose. Granted, after doing a bit of research, I quickly found out that this wasn’t in the least bit true, but even so, for a brief moment, I was mourning the loss of the “Sorry” singer. Now, if I hadn’t done any research and had decided to instead just quickly shoot out a “RIP Bieber” Tweet, I would have become the unwitting accomplice to spreading disinformation. It only takes a second to send a Tweet or make a post on Facebook. And that’s exactly how these kinds of hoaxes gain traction.
While Jimmy Fallon would be perfectly justified in reacting to this peculiar trend in anger, fortunately, he’s decided to instead join in on the jokes. Not long after the “RIP Jimmy Fallon” hashtag started making the rounds, he directed a Tweet at Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, including the hashtag, asking if he could do anything to “fix this”.
Quite a few Twitter users believe that the Fallon death hoax trend got it’s start with a Tweet shared by user Eclipse Shade that featured a black and white photo of James Corden tweeted with a caption that read “Gone but not Forgotten. Rest easy King… September 19, 1974 – November 15, 2022 #RIP JimmyFallon”. Obviously, if that is indeed where the hoax originated, it was clearly meant as a joke. But since the Tweet went viral and the RIP Jimmy Fallon hashtag has proceeded to take on a life of it’s own, the Twitter user who posted the first supposed Tweet has since clarified that they never expected for something that they intended to be taken as satire to blow up as it did. “Fallon is alive and hope he’s doing well”, wrote the user.
While that explanation for the hoax’s origin seems plausible, Lake County Florida News reported that the trend might have started with a fake Tonight Show account that shared a manipulated photo of Fallon, along with a false birth year, that claimed that he had passed away.
In response to the sudden influx of tweets featuring the “RIP Jimmy Fallon” hashtag, dozens of stars have either spoken out or ‘joined in on the fun’ by Tweeting their own take on the trend. The majority of Tweets make it clear that the users know full well that Fallon is alive and well, but even so, there are still thousands of accounts that are spreading the false information as if it were gospel truth. Once again, gullibility seems to be an epidemic these days.
Fallon Is Not The First – Or Last – Celebrity Death Hoax Victim
Back in 2013, not long after the death of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the hashtag #NowThatchersDead began trending around the globe. It didn’t take long for folks online to misread the phrase as “now that Cher’s dead” and for a brief moment, the “Life After Love” singer was thrust into the center of the internet news machine.
Fortunately, just like Fallon, Cher’s not dead, but she is just one of many stars who have been falsely declared to be dead by dubious reporting or a completely ill-intentioned hoax.
Lil Wayne ended up in the hospital in March of 2013 after suffering a seizure. While, Weezy really was facing health issues at the time, reports that began circulating that he was being given his last rites were straight-up baloney. That very afternoon, the Young Money rap mogul Tweeted that he was doing well while thanking everyone for their prayers and love. Not long after that, he began touring to promote his latest album at the time “I Am Not A Human Being II”. So, actually on second thought, maybe he was trying to tell us something. Was Lil Wayne actually replaced by an AI cyborg or something? We may never know – but as long as the jury is still out on that one, we should probably refrain from sharing any questionable Tweets about it.
In 2011, a Facebook group called “Jackie Chan RIP” earned more than 150,000 likes within hours of it’s creation. Earlier that year, in March, Chan was once again falsely reported to be deceased after supposedly suffering a heart attack.
Now, you might be under the impression that the celebrity death hoax trend is a modern phenomenon, but in reality, false reports of star’s deaths have been circulating for ages. One of the most famous examples of a celebrity death hoax gaining traction with the public and giving birth to wild, tin-foil-hat conspiracy theories started making the rounds back in the late 1960s.
Paul McCartney famously is one fourth of the legendary rock band The Beatles. Back in the 60s, The Beatles were pretty much the biggest thing since sliced bread, but with all of that attention and fanfare came a fair share of whack jobs who started reading much too deeply into the band’s lyrics, looking for hidden messages.
While the whole Helter Skelter – Charles Manson connection is one of the most famous examples of this bizarre phenomenon, another conspiracy theory that emerged out of the murky waters of Beatlemania was the “Paul is Dead” theory.
Many believed that McCartney had been replaced by an impostor after meeting some kind of grisly death. The album cover for the band’s record Abbey Road further fueled the myth, as many fans interpreted it as a funeral procession with the barefoot McCartney representing a corpse and the white-clad Lennon, as a priest.
Paul responded to rumors of his demise by repeatedly denying that he had died. He once even told the BBC that if people reached the conclusion that he was dead, then they were wrong, because he was alive and living in Scotland.
Another famous example of an early celebrity death hoax involved the since-deceased actor Sean Connery. In 1993, the 007 star went on the Late Show with David Letterman to dispel rumors that he had met his demise. The rumors apparently started with the death of one of Connery’s friends in Spain, retired Formula One World Champ James Hunt. Following Hunt’s death, a story began to circulate naming the deceased individual as James Bond.
It didn’t take long for the news to spread to Japan along with reports of another recently deceased person, Texas governor John Connally. Naturally, something got lost in translation, and it started to be reported that it was in fact Connery who had met his end, not Connally or Hunt. Fortunately, Connery was able to quickly clear things up by making that public appearance on Letterman.
It’s crazy to think just how quickly false intel can spread online. If such hoaxes were able to spread so repidly in the pre-internet era, it only makes sense that they would spread exponentially quicker in the modern ‘everyone-connected-all-the-time’ age.
We’re happy to inform you that Jimmy Fallon is doing just fine. But may this recent hoax serve as a humbling example of just how important it is to check your sources and do some research before spreading “shiny’ sensational information. Please, for the love of all that is good and true, think before you Tweet. If something sounds a bit questionable, it probably is.
Before you move on to watching another one of our Facts-packed videos, take a moment to share your thoughts with us in the comments section down below. Did you fall for the “Rip Jimmy Fallon” hoax, or did you know better? And can you think of any other stars who have falsely been reported to have died? Let us know!
And as always, thanks for watching!