A rumour spread across social media that the star of sitcom “Family Ties” and the “Back to the Future” movie trilogy had carked it at the age of 57.
Fans of the popular actor spread the message with their friends, without checking a credible source – instead the rumours appear to have stemmed from a bogus website purporting to be Yahoo News.
The fake report claims that Fox was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on August 2, following complications attributed to Parkinson’s disease. The false article quotes Chief Coroner Jonathan Lucas M.D. as saying that Fox had developed pneumonia, and had passed away peacefully, surrounded by friends and family.
Why did someone write the tasteless story on a website purporting to be the real Yahoo News? My guess is that they were simply attempting to get a lot of people clicking through, in the hope that they might generate some income through online adverts. Of course, similar clickbait can be used to draw users to webpages containing scams, malware, or phishing attacks.
Anyone visiting yahoonews-us.com is likely to see a message warning of the deceptive nature of the website.
I’d like to think that the fact that Michael J Fox was tweeting, after rumours of his death began to spread, would have helped ruin the scheme – but I suspect most people would never have bothered to check, and simply passed the shocking news onto their friends and family without thinking.
You should always check your facts with a reputable online source, rather than believe the first website you stumble across and think twice about sharing untrustworthy “breaking news” (or even “braking news”) with your social networking friends.