Ninja aka Richard Tyler Blevins is not dead. The Fortnite streamer was rumored to have died in July 2018 after suffering from the fictional disease, Ligma.
The surest sign that Ninja is alive-and-well is that the Detroit-native has remained active on his Twitter page.
Around the time of the hoax, a forum on Twin Galaxies detailed that the rumor was continuing to grow despite the fact that Ninja was posting photos with his wife in Los Angeles at the ESPY Awards.
According to Polygon, Ligma is a joke along the lines of Deez Nuts. When someone asks, “What’s ligma?” The appropriate response is, “Ligma balls.” The website went on to report that the hoax was started by someone using the Twitter handle, Ninja_Hater. That person told Polygon, “I personally like the joke and how it’s really kept the joke going, and even spread to other people.”
Death hoaxes are hugely common in the internet age. In March 2014, ABC News published a guideline for internet users in order to help them to avoid falling for death hoaxes. At that time, a common death hoax suggested that various celebrities, including Jeff Goldblum and The Rock had died after falling from some cliffs in New Zealand. The ABC article pointed out that readers should be eagle-eyed for “bait text.” “Bait text” is something that seems interesting but has been used multiple times in multiple other fake stories.
While a Washington Post article on the same topic encouraged users to stick to known websites and noted that, “Breaking news stories will usually include the reporter’s name; hoaxes, mysteriously, go un-bylined.”
In 2014, The Week published a list of hoax sites. They included, Empire News, The National Report, Huzlers, Daily Currant and Free Wood Post. The website noted that occasionally news stories from satire sites such as The Onion and Clickhole are circulated as legitimate news. The Week article concludes simply that users should, “Take 30 seconds to determine whether something is real before you blast it out to hundreds of people. We’ll all have a better internet for it.” Buzzfeed’s Craig Silverman, a specialist in fake news, told DigiDay in 2012, “Fake news relies on viral sharing. If you think about why so many stars are subject to death hoaxes, they’ve been part of a pop culture that people have an emotional connection to. And that is at the core of what makes fake news work.”
Also in 2014, a digital media professor at Indiana University, Mark Bell, told the New York Times that part of the reason for the prevalence of death hoaxes is that “People like to lie. They get a thrill from it. There is a little hit of dopamine when you lie, especially a lie that is believed by somebody else.” While the Independent rationalized that the popularity for the stories was simply “because people want to read them.” Mark Bell also said of the phenomenon, “There’s not a lot of cost, either financially, morally, legally or criminally in doing this.”