Gotye is NOT dead, despite what you may read on CNN iReport

Filed Under: Social networks, Twitter

GotyeTwitter was all a flutter this weekend with users reacting to the alleged death of music star Gotye.

Many users claimed that CNN had confirmed the Australian singer had killed himself, pointing to what appeared to be a news report on the news service's website:

"At 4:32 AM EST, it was reported that Gotye had shot himself in the head with a 9mm handgun. He was pronounced dead at 4.45AM, and the investigation concluded that the cause of death was suicide."

CNN iReport about Gotye's alleged death

Well, that is CNN's website - so should you believe the story of the singer's suicide?

No. You see, CNN iReport is a site that allows anyone in the world to upload stories and pictures of breaking news events - without any pre-vetting from CNN itself.

In this case, a user calling themselves "MJTheDestroy" posted the bogus story. Of course, most Twitter users saw the article and felt its presence at a CNN web address was enough to confirm its authenticity.

Gotye himself turned to Twitter to debunk rumours of his death:

So, there's as much truth in this story as there was in the recent announcements of the "deaths" of Vanilla Ice, 1980s pop idol Adam Ant, Margaret Thatcher and Mikhael Gorbachev.

Those of us who are interested in computer security know all too well the importance of not believing everything we read, not rushing to click on a link nor open an attachment without thinking about the possible consequences.

Remember that next time you hear a rumour that a celebrity has died. In this case it looks like mere mischief-making was at work, but there have been other times when bogus stories like this have been exploited to spread malware.

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3 Responses to Gotye is NOT dead, despite what you may read on CNN iReport

  1. It's a good thing I've never heard of the guy :)

    I do like the fact that his name spells 'Got Ye!' though - It seems apt for such a ruse :)

  2. Jamie · 850 days ago

    But you didn't have to cut me off..

  3. MikeP · 850 days ago

    That's why you should not believe everything on the Internet, most is fine but there are so many untruths. I suggest you initially doubt everything that allows 'Jo Public' to post/edit anywhere, like Wikipedia, CNN iReport, etc. You should even doubt 'pressure group' websites and statements as they have a 'vested interest' to support that may not be the truth nor even based on provable science.

    It's shocking that schools are teaching pupils to trust web-based information and not to query everything they see or read.

    BTW, I'm not dead despite reports to the contrary!

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.