An internet hoax about the death of the Mr. Bean star Rowan Atkinson, which was sparked by a user from Philippines, became the top trending topic worldwide on Twitter today.
Rumors about the apparent death of Rowan Atkinson spread around the globe within hours of a “joke” tweet from a so called “internet troll” on the microblogging site.
The hoax even briefly fooled internet encyclopedia Wikipedia, which displayed Rowan Atkinson’s date of death as 26 February, 2012, on his entry page.
Tens of thousands of people latched onto the #RIP Rowan Atkinson hash-tag to express their condolences.
The top worldwide trending subject was apparently sparked by a single post from a twitter user based in the Philippines.
Michael Robert Meras posted the message to his 753 followers: “Fresh news from Britain, Rowan Sebastian Atkinson (A.K.A. Mr. Bean) passed away this evening.”
Within a few hours the rumors had spread around world and ignited an internet frenzy.
Just two hours later, Michael Robert Meras posted another comment saying: “OMG! I started the tween RIP Rowan Atkinson, it was just a joke…”
An hour later Michael Robert meras added: “Shutting down now. Sorry guys, RIP Rowan Atkins was just a joke. Sorry for the matter, I never thought it would be that viral.”
Rowan Atkinson is not the first global star to be the subject of a death hoax.
Owen Wilson, Charlie Sheen, Adam Sandler and Eddie Murphy are among a growing list of stars to have been killed off in cyberspace.
They were all said to have been tragically killed in snowboarding accidents, according to rumors which have circulated around the internet in recent years.
Morgan Freeman and former popstar Aaron Carter have also been the subject of online death rumors.
Hollywood actor Owen Wilson, 42, was reported to have died in a skiing accident in a dubiously posted article titled “Global Associated News”.
The report claimed Owen Wilson had snowboarded into a tree and died in Zermatt, Switzerland.