It happened again, and thanks to over 500,000+ shares on Facebook (and counting), many Willie Nelson fans believe the legendary country singer died on Saturday, April 11th in Maui, and one dubious website is reaping the financial rewards.
A site called msmbc.co—purposely titled to be easily confused with msnbc.com—initially posted a fake death story involving Willie Nelson on February 21st, 2015. The site then updated the story on Saturday, April 11th with a fake tale about Willie being found unresponsive on his front lawn, causing the concern for Willie Nelson’s living status to start anew.
The reason such sites post fake death stories is they tend to go viral quickly on Facebook and other social network sites, driving significant traffic to the fake web pages and resulting in a financial windfall for the site owners through ad revenue. Avoiding the fake sites completely is the best way to attempt to break the cycle. Re-sharing the story, even if you’re announcing it’s fake, only continues the traffic event for the fake sites.
Compounding the problem, the fake story continues to be updated to reflect the current day’s date. Though the actual msmbc.co update was made on April 11th, it currently reflects an April 12th date, and hypothetically will continue to change its date daily to keep the ruse going. The fake article also states, “Rumors of Nelson’s death first circulated early (today date) on social media outlets but was later confirmed by police.” This causes many readers to discredit other information they might see that the death is indeed a hoax, keeping the hoax going perpetually.
Instead of going to the fake msmbc.co site to see for yourself, you can find the text of the fake story below, along with some screen shots of the site. Again, going to the site or sharing it in any way just perpetuates the cycle, and encourages more hoaxes about celebrities that are near and dear to the hearts of fans, and also puts money in the hands of the hoaxters.
Legendary country music star Willie Nelson was found dead today in his Maui home. He was 81 years old. Rumors of Nelson’s death first circulated early April 12, 2015 on social media outlets but was later confirmed by police.
A groundskeeper scheduled to perform yard maintenance on Nelson’s property reportedly found the singer/songwriter unresponsive on the front lawn and immediately called 911.
“There was no evidence of drug abuse or alcohol and no signs of foul play,” said Det. Aldeson.
“Determining an official cause of death could take as long as 3 weeks,” said County Coroner Frank Shultz. “It’s just too early to tell what caused his tragic death.”
The shocking news comes just days after a recent “60 Minutes” interview where Nelson was quoted as saying “Life is good and I have never felt better or been happier.”
This story is still developing and all information is not yet officially verified.
Screen Shots taken Saturday (4-11) night of fake death hoax:
Willie Nelson death hoaxes are popular with such misleading sites. Another website called mediamass.net (that may be associated with msmbc.co) published another death story on or around February 21st, 2015 that also went viral. Making the deed even more sinister, after the death story went viral, mediamass.net turned around and debunked their own myth by posting a new story about the hoax, causing their myth-busting story to go viral as well, getting unsuspecting readers both coming and going, and undoubtedly making lots of revenue from ads on the articles. There’s a good chance the msmbc.co article could pull the same tactic in the future.
It’s always best to check with more reputable websites to confirm the death of a celebrity before sharing the news on social media. You can also check snopes.com which has also debunked the Willie Nelson death hoaxes.