Robin Williams died on August 11, 2014, but some websites initially claimed the report was a hoax. Other reports claimed there was a coincidental death hoax for the actor only days before he actually passed away.
2012 Death Hoax
In May 2012, a Robin Williams death hoax quickly spread on Facebook, Twitter, and email. That hoax stated that he died in a fall while filming a movie. What makes this rumor interesting is that it was accidentally fueled by Goldie Hawn on Twitter. That hoax read:
Actor Robin Williams died while filming a movie in Kitzbühel, Austria early this morning — May 21, 2012. Preliminary reports from Austrian Police officials indicate that the actor fell more than 50 feet to his death in a remote area of the Hahnenkamm mountains while on-set during the filming of a movie. Specific details are not yet available. The accident occurred at approximately 4:30 a.m. (UTC/GMT +12)
Goldie Hawn, for her part, was apparently trying to correct the rumor, but the lack of clarity in her brief tweet ended up fueling the rumor more than halting it. In response to the rumor, Goldie tweeted:
Correction! Robin Gibbs has sadly passed. RIP @jcm1009:@goldiehawn Actor Robin Williams Falls To his death
If read quickly, it appears that Goldie is saying that Robin Williams fell to his death, when actually she was correcting a tweet sent to her, telling the person that it was Robin Gibb who had passed away, not Robin Williams.
2013 Death Hoax
Several months later, rumors of Williams’ death continued to crop up every couple of months, with a significant surge in early 2013. When a variant of the rumor circulated in early February, the actor addressed the rumor directly by tweeting:
“Despite rumors to the contrary, I will be in Savannah tomorrow night at the Johnny Mercer Theater.”
It was widely reported that Robin Williams passed away on August 11, 2014 at the age of 63. Some fans who are accustomed to celebrity death hoaxes went online in search of confirmation. Some of these fans found fake news sites, such as Mediamass, claiming that reports of the actor’s death were just a hoax.
A fake news generator known as Mediamass posts “death hoax” articles for hundreds of celebrities. Some fans, upon hearing the news of Williams’ death, found the fake Mediamass article and pronounced the news a hoax. Others who found the Mediamass article believed there was a coincidental Robin Williams death hoax only hours before the actor actually passed away. This is also untrue, as all Mediamass articles are regularly re-dated to appear recent. Read more about Mediamass here.
Robin Williams died on August 11, 2014. In the years prior to his death, several death hoaxes circulated, one which the actor himself debunked. Fake news generators such as Mediamass have confused some fans into believing a death hoax occurred shortly before the actor died.
Rest in peace Robin Williams.