Just Because It's Trending Doesn't Mean It's True
Hoax Alert

Fake News: Mr. Bean AKA Rowan Atkinson NOT Dead at 58 After Car Accident

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Sat, 18 Mar 2017 10:13:02 Z)

UPDATE July 13th 2017: A new version of this hoax is going around, read about it here.

Fake news website news.sharedtodaytv.com (which redirects to rugimanen.dailynewztags.co) went viral with a hoax article titled: "FOX BREAKING NEWS : Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) died at 58 after car accident. -March 18, 2017." The story is nothing more than that headline plus a video player that tries to trick visitors into installing dodgy software and/or liking/sharing the story in order to continue watching. Update: meanwhile the hoax seems to be hosted on tnp.dailyshareds.com as well. Another Update: See here for a full technical analysis of the hoax.

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It appears the story is a variation on an earlier hoax from July 2016 that also claimed the comedian died in a car crash that might also have been a suicide. A cached version of that story is available at rip.trendolizer.com. This version of the story attributed CNN as the source while the 'new' version of the hoax claims it was Fox News. However a search of the Fox News website for "Rowan Atkinson Dead" returns no relevant results. Also: neither Atkinson's Wikipedia page nor any reputable media outlets have confirmed the story so it is definitely not true.

It appears the current iteration of the hoax is being spread via several different URLs and domain names, probably in an effort to avoid detection and blocking measures at Facebook.

The video the site tries to play actually comes from YouTube and is a tribute to Brenda Buttner, a Fox News host who passed away on February 20th 2017.

It seems the booby trapped video player on the hoax sites tricked thousands of people into sharing the fake story with their friends as you can see in the Trendolizer graph at the end of this article. If you notice anyone of your friends sharing the hoax, send them here and tell them to run a malware/virus scan on their computer just to be safe.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?


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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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About Lead Stories

Lead Stories uses the Trendolizer™ engine to detect the most trending stories from known fake news, satire and prank websites and tries to debunk them as fast as possible. Read more about how we work and how we select stories to check here.

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