This weekend, people on Twitter got yet another reminder not to believe what you read on Twitter without confirming with an outside source.
Nelson Mandela has become the latest victim of a celebrity death hoax on Twitter, with the network abuzz with the false information that the former South African president had died in his sleep.
Mandela remains in the hospital in Pretoria with a lung infection and is in a “serious but stable condition,” according to the latest information from South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma.
At 10:48 a.m. on Saturday, June 8, a Twitter account imitating that of CNN host Piers Morgan tweeted the following incorrect “breaking news”:
Breaking news: Nelson Mandela’s spokesman has confirmed the tragic news that the former leader died earlier this afternoon in his sleep.
— Piers Morgan (@piersrnorgan) June 8, 2013
See how the “r” and “n” together look like an “m” for Morgan? With tweets scrolling by in dozens by the second, it was easy to mistake the account for the real deal. And if you check out the profile’s bio, it does include the word “parody.”
The tweet got more than 1,400 retweets – which is exactly how rumors start on Twitter.
The same account tweeted back in March:
— Piers Morgan (@piersrnorgan) March 28, 2013
Mandela, 94, is still alive as of now – and his Twitter account, albeit managed by others, is active.