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Fake Twitter Account Declares Author Kazuo Ishiguro Dead

Several famous Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities have previously been declared dead by the internet.

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WebQoof
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Celebrity death hoaxes have become the easiest way for people to gain traffic for their websites or get followers on social media handles.

The latest victim of this hoax was novelist and Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, who was declared dead on Twitter on Tuesday, 22 March.

Several verified Twitter handles shared the information about Ishiguro’s death, and English daily The Indian Express, too, fell for it.

The rumours started from a Twitter handle impersonating 'FaberBooks', an independent publishing house in London.

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What Happened Today?

A Twitter handle pretending to be that of Faber Books (@FaberBooksUK) was the first to tweet about Ishiguro’s death.

Several famous Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities have previously been declared dead by the internet.

Tweet about Ishiguro's death.

(Source: Twitter/Screenshot)

“Penguin Random House and Faber Books announce the sudden death of Kazuo Ishiguro,” the tweet read. The account was followed by a little over 14,000 people when the user posted the tweet. It was then retweeted multiple times by followers of the account and those of Ishiguro.

However, a subsequent tweet by the account made it clear that it was a hoax.

“This account is a hoax created by Italian journalist Tommasso Debenedetti,” read the now-deleted tweet.
Several famous Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities have previously been declared dead by the internet.

Tweet by the fake account of Faber Books.

(Source: Screenshot/Twitter)

The user then deleted tweets about Ishiguro’s death and changed the name and handle of the account. The account is now called @PicchiodeiPini.

Several famous Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities have previously been declared dead by the internet.

The account @FaberBooksUK changes its name to @PicchiodeiPini.

(Source: Twitter/Screenshot)

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Who is Tommasso De Benedetti?

While we could not independently verify if De Benedetti indeed created the account called @FaberBooksUK, he is known for such hoaxes.

He is also known to own up to his hoaxes before deleting a piece of misinformation, as per The Guardian.

The same piece identifies him as a school teacher based in Rome who is “one of the world’s most creative and successful fake tweeters”.

“Social media is the most unverifiable information source in the world, but the news media believes it because of its need for speed,” De Benedetti told The Guardian.

According to the article, De Benedetti has tweeted falsely about the deaths of Pope Benedict XVI, Fidel Castro, and Pedro Almodovar.

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Death Hoaxes Fuel Misinformation and Phishing

The account called @PicchiodeiPini still has all the 14,000 original followers. The user can easily change the display picture and name to something else and spread misinformation, a practice De Benedetti admitted to in The Guardian article.

In the past, online scammers have used death hoaxes for phishing. For example, a social media post declaring Atkinson’s death in 2018 turned out to be an attempt to breach data from people’s computers.

The fraudsters also tried to trick users into downloading software that allows them to control the user’s computer, steal files, and install malware.

Similarly actor Dwayne Johnson has been a victim of these death hoaxes.

The death of a celebrity elicits strong emotions from people, which often translates into them sharing the piece of information without checking the facts.

It is, therefore, crucial to check for verified sources before sharing any piece of information online.

For example, Faber Books has a verified Twitter handle called @FaberBooks. Checking the verified handle would have stopped people from spreading misinformation.

One should also be careful about bogus websites pretending to be reputable news sources. Pranksters and hackers often change the name of news organisations to trick people. Lastly, check if the source of the news is a satirical website.

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(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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Topics:  Death Hoax   Webqoof   Fact-Check 

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