A study of ‘death rumours’ on Twitter has revealed that Justin Bieber is the musician most often reported to be dead, according to global social media monitoring and analysis platform Synthesio.
The Canadian pop singer leads other celebrities by a significant distance, with his death falsely reported at regular two week intervals. As part of a wider study looking at the online behaviours of teenage pop fans Synthesio monitored #RIP celebrity rumour tweets that had been retweeted more than 500 times. The latest rumour about Bieber’s death generated 2,600 tweets in one day alone and the top reason reported for Bieber’s death was a drugs overdose – although crashing his Ferrari was a close second.
Zayn Malik of One Direction was the second most falsely mourned celebrity, with thousands of ‘Directioners’ frequently reporting his death.
Other celebrities who were regularly wrongly reported as dead on Twitter in the last three months include Rihanna and Chris Brown.
Catriona Oldershaw, Managing Director UK of Synthesio said: “Rumours of major celebrity deaths are a constant feature of Twitter, but what is interesting about Justin Bieber is how prevalent and regular the reports are. Also, it seems that the volume of Tweets is also increasing.
“Reports of Zayn Malik’s demise are particularly strange as he is the only member of One D who is a regular subject of these rumours. It may be because Zayn is the only band member who is not a regular Tweeter, meaning that rumours about him are harder to dispel quickly.
“There are a number of reasons these rumours spread. In Justin and Zayn’s case, their young and fanatical fan base is probably one of the major factors, with vocal users quick to pass on information without fact-checking. In terms of where the rumours come from in the first place, wider research indicates that it’s often rival fans starting RIP rumours as a form of trolling.”