Will Smith and Jaden Smith are not dead. A death hoax has been spread on social media claiming the movie star and his son were killed in a car crash in December 2019. But the Facebook post and other stories about the famous father and son dying were created to bait people to click through to a malicious website that promotes fake news and dangerous ads.
Celebrity death hoaxes are common on Facebook and elsewhere on social media as a means for shady websites to gain clicks and revenue. Unsuspecting social media users see the headline and realistic-looking post and click on the link to find out more, without realizing where the link is sending them. The fake video about the Smiths has been viewed millions of times.
Will Smith, 51, has recently been promoting his newest movie, “Gemini Man,” and Jaden Smith, his 21-year-old son was at his side at the premiere. Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, have two children together, Jaden and Willow Smith, and Will Smith has a son from a previous relationship, Trey Smith. Jaden Smith has followed in his father’s footsteps into the entertainment business, as an actor, rapper and singer. They starred together in the “Pursuit of Happyness,” as a father and son in 2006.
All of the members of the Smith family were alive and seemingly doing fine on December 8, 2019, as the fake story about a Smith family tragedy spread on social media and trended on Google.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Hoax Death Post Uses a CNN Logo & Says the Father & Son Were Killed in a Car Crash Involving a Truck
The death hoax uses a CNN logo and a fake CNN Facebook page to make it seem like it is real. According to Snopes, which also debunked the hoax, the video posted to Facebook had more than 1.6 million views before it was taken down.
The Facebook post showed a fake CNN chyron saying, “WILL SMITH and JADEN SMITH SHOCKING DEATH,” and added in the caption, “Breaking: Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith Died in a Car Crash after Truck and Their Car Collide.” The post also claims to have a video of the actual crash.
Another post shows a photo of the Smiths and an unrelated car crash. That post was shared by a malicious news website.
“xhe purpose of this hoax appeared to be to bait users into clicking to view the video as a means of driving them to malicious web pages, and to trick them into sharing the hoax post on social media in order to spread it further. Users are strongly advised not to visit to the website that underlies this hoax post and not to click on anything displayed there,” Snopes says.
Will Smith & Jaden Smith Have Both Been Active on Social Media in the Days Since the Fake Death Story Was Spread Online
Both Will Smith and Jaden Smith have been active on social media and out and about in public in the days since the death hoax spread on social media. Will Smith shared several videos on his Instagram page from an appearance he made at the World’s Big Sleep Out in Times Square in New York City on December 7. The event was to call for an end to global homelessness.
Smith performed and talked about how “Pursuit of Happyness,” changed his views on homelessness. In the movie, based on a true story, Smith starred as Chris Gardner, a homeless dad. Jaden Smith played Gardner’s young son.
“It makes me emotional thinking about it right and you know to not have a place to go and go be able to lay your head down with your children at night is a horrendous tragedy,” Smith said at the event, according to the New York Post.
Jaden Smith, meanwhile, has been promoting his music tour with Willow Smith, the “Willow and Erys Tour.” The siblings made a tour stop in Denver, Colorado, on December 6 and arrived in Las Vegas on December 7 for a show in the Nevada city. While the death hoax claimed Will Smith and Jaden Smith crashed and died together, they were actually on opposite sides of the country.