Paul Walker's death and the rise of the meta-hoax?
Pop culture celebrity death hoaxes certainly have a long history (for instance, shortly after Franklin D. Roosevelt's death in 1945, false reports of the deaths of Charlie Chaplin and Frank Sinatra also arose).
But the latest devolution of this media phenomenon manifested when an alleged death hoax arose one day before Fast and Furious star Paul Walker died on November 30.
So here's the real story: Walker, 40 years old, and his friend Roger Rodas, 38, died in a car accident in Santa Clarita, California, while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. (Walker formed the organization in 2010 to mobilize aid to major natural disasters around the world. The latest effort was devoted to helping Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines.)
In what appeared to be a cruel coincidence, several reports arose that a death hoax about Walker circulated the day before his death.
But wait, the plot hoax thickens—Just Jared and The Hollywood Life claimed there was a twist to the twist: these sites claim the death hoax itself apparently never happened and that reports of the hoax...were a hoax. Is this the rise of the metahoax?
Numerous reports are pointing their fingers at the Mediamass Project, a website dedicated to critiquing mass media through satire, which describes themselves thusly:
The website mediamass.net is the medium of our satire to expose with humour, exaggeration and ridicule the contemporary mass production and mass consumption that we observe
Also it will not only mock the procuders [sic] (mainstream media, journalists) as it is common when questioning and criticizing mass media, but also the consumers as one cannot exist without the other. Sensationalism, lack of verification of information, ethics and standards issues are only symptoms of the actual social and economic order. This is particularly obvious when observing the role of social networking sites in spreading rumours.
Whatever the case, Walker's tragic death was confirmed by a post on his Facebook page by his representatives.
In other news about hoaxes related to Walker, the International Business Times is reporting a death photo of a man who looks like Walker, with "RIP Paul Walker" messages, surfaced on Twitter.
According to the IBT report, the photo cannot be of Walker because the L.A. County Coroner's office stated that Walker and Rodas had to be identified with dental records due to being burned beyond recognition.
IBT is also reporting that a Facebook account supposedly belonging to Walker's 15-year-old daughter Meadow Walker was also fake. Walker's reps contacted the social networking site to have the account removed.