Nothing is guaranteed to get online traffic directed pronto to a social media site better than the breaking news that a celeb has met their maker behind the wheel of a car.
The latest celeb death in road accident scam story starred rapper Vanilla Ice, who somewhat inappropriately did not, it appears, skid on a patch of ice.
According to a hoax message on the social media sites Facebook and Twitter, the rapper (real name Robert Matthew Van Winkle) met his end in a single vehicle crash, with no more details (not even an ice patch) offered – raising all sorts of questions about the central reservation, whether a tree or lamp post had been implicated and arrested, or whether, in fact, the news was actually true.
The rumours of Vanilla Ice’s demise spread across Facebook and Twitter like Jensen Button in a hurry.
The rapper, however, must have been touched by his famous namesake’s powers of escape, for at the very time when he should have been enjoying a one-sided conversation with the coroner, he was on Facebook and Twitter himself, in rude health, to deny he was deceased as the result of a car accident.
Whoever is spreading the rumor that I died in a car crash is full of shit I'm right here kicking colder than ever and I love all my ninjasWhy scammers spread rumours about celeb deaths in car accidents is obvious – the news drives traffic to the website or page where they are posted.
— Vanilla Ice (@vanillaice) June 17, 2012
The breaking headline about Vanilla Ice’s death in a road accident was accompanied by a link taking the reader to another site offering what might have seemed like a genuine news report, but which in fact might be a page advertising any number of products or harbouring malaware.
Poor Robert Matthew Van Winkle’s mum and friends even texted him to see if he was alive, so scam stories can be devastating for family and friends, as well as fans.
Celebs generally are protected by an army of managers and PR companies and it is unlikely that any celeb death would get to be reported without the news travelling through a network of informants and interested parties before it popped up on the Press Association’s or Reuters’ own news feeds.
Road accidents are also a serious business – if fatal or if there has been a serious injury, the police are immediately involved and press access controlled.
Tweeting or posting about any road accident is thoughtless – and not the way most social media users would want their mum to find out about their demise.
It is very rare that the paparazzi are on hand to record celeb deaths, either – but history has shown it can happen.
However, the next time you read a celeb has died in a road accident, check it out at reliable news sites like BBC News or Reuters, which will get the news from the authorities as soon as details can be released and the family of the injured or deceased has been informed.
Guest Author Adds: Also report any news scams to http://techie-buzz.com, which tracks online scams. Getting injured whilst behind the wheel can be traumatising for any person. But having an accident on the road doesn't mean you have to get on and suffer alone.