Vin Diesel, the star of the Fast & the Furious movie series, is not dead despite a Facebook post claiming the actor was killed during a car stunt in his backyard.
The fake news post includes the CNN logo. The post reads, “BREAKING NEWS | Hollywood Cries after Vin Diesel, Died In a FAIL STUNT on his Backyard. | TODAY, May 2020.” Included in the post is a video titled, “Actual Footage: VIN DIESEL CAR STUNT ACCIDENT.”
The Viral Clip Purporting to Show a Report About Diesel’s Death Comes From News Footage Regarding Paul Walker’s 2013 Death
The video begins with anchor Robin Roberts, who works for ABC as one of the hosts of Good Morning America, not CNN, saying, “Details this morning on the deaths of Fast & the Furious.” The video cuts off at that point and tells the viewer that the rest of the clip can only be seen if the video is shared on Facebook. The clip is likely from December 2013 at the time of the death of Diesel’s co-star Paul Walker.
Diesel Has Not Been Active on Social Media Since May 23
Heavy has reached out to Diesel’s representatives for comment on the hoax but has not yet heard back. Diesel has not been active on social media much recently: his last tweet came in February, his last Facebook activity came in March and his last Instagram post was on May 23. Despite this, it’s likely that major networks would feature coverage if Diesel was really dead following a stunt accident.
Diesel has been the victim of two major death hoaxes in the past. Politifact detailed a death hoax in 2018 that allegedly involved the actor dying after attempting “the perfect stunt.” The first major death hoax involving Diesel appeared in January 2014, according to Snopes.
Stars Such as Jeff Goldblum & The Rock Have Been Victims of Death Hoaxes in the Past
Death hoaxes are 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” — information that seems interesting but has been used multiple times in multiple other fake stories.
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.”