No, Michael J Fox isn’t dead

Fake (Yahoo) News.

No, Michael J Fox isn't dead

Calm down. Michael J Fox isn’t dead.

A rumour spread across social media that the star of sitcom “Family Ties” and the “Back to the Future” movie trilogy had carked it at the age of 57.

Fans of the popular actor spread the message with their friends, without checking a credible source – instead the rumours appear to have stemmed from a bogus website purporting to be Yahoo News.

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Fake yahoo news

The fake report claims that Fox was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on August 2, following complications attributed to Parkinson’s disease. The false article quotes Chief Coroner Jonathan Lucas M.D. as saying that Fox had developed pneumonia, and had passed away peacefully, surrounded by friends and family.

Why did someone write the tasteless story on a website purporting to be the real Yahoo News? My guess is that they were simply attempting to get a lot of people clicking through, in the hope that they might generate some income through online adverts. Of course, similar clickbait can be used to draw users to webpages containing scams, malware, or phishing attacks.

Anyone visiting is likely to see a message warning of the deceptive nature of the website.

Deceptive site

I’d like to think that the fact that Michael J Fox was tweeting, after rumours of his death began to spread, would have helped ruin the scheme – but I suspect most people would never have bothered to check, and simply passed the shocking news onto their friends and family without thinking.

Many other celebrities have been the subject of death scams in the past including Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus.

You should always check your facts with a reputable online source, rather than believe the first website you stumble across and think twice about sharing untrustworthy “breaking news” (or even “braking news”) with your social networking friends.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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