Rumors of Susan Boyle’s alleged demise gained traction on Saturday after an ‘R.I.P. Susan Boyle’ Facebook page attracted nearly one million ‘likes.’ Those who read the ‘About’ page were given a believable account of the Scottish singer’s passing:
“At about 11 a.m. ET on Saturday (September 10, 2016), our beloved singer Susan Boyle passed away. Susan Boyle was born on April 1, 1961 in Blackburn. She will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page.”Thousands of fans immediately started writing their messages of condolence on the Facebook page, expressing their sadness that the talented 55-year-old singer was dead. Almost immediately, Twitter was ablaze with "Tweets" about Miss Boyle's supposed death.
On Sunday (September 11) a spokesperson for the officially confirmed that Susan Boyle is not dead. The spokesperson said, “She joins the long list of celebrities who have been victimized by this hoax. She's still alive and well; stop believing what you see on the Internet.”
Why am I pointing out this story? The internet, which we now take for granted, is perhaps the world's greatest invention--a repository of the collective learning and intelligence of humankind. It is a tremendous source of news, education, and communication, as well as entertainment. When the internet is abused, we all suffer--not least of all those who are the victims of this kind of hoax.