For a few minutes Thursday afternoon, it seemed like Morgan Freeman had suddenly died, with CNN supposedly breaking the news.
Turns out it was just a regular guy on Twitter playing a joke that caught fire.
“How did the rumor begin?” Slate.com asks. “Blame it on @originalcjizzle, a guy with nearly 1,500 followers who is fond of calling people ‘jive turkeys.’ Just before 5PM ET, @originalcjizzle tweeted: RT @CNN: Breaking News: actor Morgan Freeman has passed away in his Burbank home<< wow legendary actor #RIPmorganfreeman.”
C. Jizzle’s post feigned CNN’s authority; anyone can perform a manual retweet regardless of its veracity. “This is a common way to begin a hoax on the social network,” Slate writes. “Nobody fact-checks anything on Twitter, so faking a CNN retweet is a good way to get your fake death notice to go viral.”
UPDATE: C. Jizzle told PopEater via e-mail: “All I have to say right now is that I apologize to Mr. Freeman and to CNN,” adding, by way of clarifying erroneous media reports about his origins — “and I’m not a rapper.”