Journal article

‘Death by Twitter’: Understanding false death announcements on social media and the performance of platform cultural capital

Bjorn Nansen, Dominic O'Donnell, Michael Arnold, Tamara Kohn, Martin Gibbs

First Monday | University of Illinois Libraries | Published : 2019


In this paper, we analyse false death announcements of public figures on social media and public responses to them. The analysis draws from a range of public sources to collect and categorise the volume of false death announcements on Twitter and undertakes a case study analysis of representative examples. We classify false death announcements according to five overarching types: accidental; misreported; misunderstood; hacked; and hoaxed. We identify patterns of user responses, which cycle through the sharing of the news, to personal grief, to a sense of uncertainty or disbelief. But we also identify more critical and cultural responses to such death announcements in relation to misinformati..

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