Justin Bieber is not dead. But he is the celeb most often reported to be dead, according to a study of death rumors on Twitter.
According to Synthesio, a global social media and analysis company — Justin’s death is falsely reported roughly every two weeks.
Synthesio tracked #RIP celebrity rumor tweets that had been retweeted more than 500 times. The top reason cited for Justin’s death was a drug overdose, with crashing his Ferrari coming in a close second.
Second on the dead-but-not-dead list was Zayn Malik of One Direction. Rihanna and Chris Brown also were regularly reported deceased in the past three months.
Catriona Oldershaw, UK managing director of Synthesio, said in a statement:
Rumors 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. The volume of tweets is also increasing, with the latest rumor spread by 2,600 users in one day.
Reports of Zayn Malik’s demise are particularly strange as he is the only member of 1D who is a regular subject of these rumors. It may be because Zayn is the only band member who is not a regular tweeter, meaning that rumors about him are harder to dispel quickly.
There are a number of reasons these rumors 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 rumors come from in the first place, wider research indicates that it’s often rival fans starting RIP rumors as a form of trolling.