You're Dead, Unless You Tweet Otherwise

Short version – a false report about renowned Dutch DJ Tiësto dying in a car accident spread via Twitter, was talked about so much that it ended up in trending topics, and was ultimately denied by the man himself via his own Twitter account.

I increasingly find it disturbing that false information can make the rounds so quickly these days, and I’ve sadly long realized this is an unstoppable, irreversible yet disheartening trend.

Somewhat longer version – At the risk of flogging a dead horse (pun intended), I’m saddened by the fact that this is the umpteenth case of a celebrity being declared dead on one or more social networking sites, without anyone seemingly being able to determine the actual source of the ‘news’ and thus unable to verify the information with absolute certainty.

Granted, most people seemed to be simply echoing the rumor – hitting the retweet or like button is oh so easy – and asking themselves and/or their Twitter followers whether it’s really true or not, seemingly in an attempt to locate a solid source for the news – in vain.

Meanwhile, I wonder how much longer this would have been kept going if Tiësto (né Tijs Michiel Verwest) didn’t have the chance to use his own presence on Twitter to squash down the rumors of his passing as swiftly as he did.

I wonder what his family and friends, assuming they’d pick up on this through Twitter or other media that base themselves on these false reports, go through if they wouldn’t be able to reach him instantaneously.

I wonder what the experience was and is like for him, seeing his fans, peers, close and less-close friends or even relatives disseminate and attempt to verify the false information of his tragic death. Emotional roller coasters abound, I can imagine, and all because somewhere, someone decided it’d be fun to trick people into believing he died in a car accident.

But most of all, I wonder if this is a trend, similar to the online mob phenomenon Michael talked about in the past, that is unequivocally here to stay. I fear it is, and I can’t think of a way to reverse or prevent it.

Actually, scratch that. I know it is, and I can’t think of a way to prevent it, and no longer believe it is possible at all.

Am I being a pessimist, or a realist?

(Image via nestland on Flickr)