Morgan Freeman is dead

False death newsExcess mortality among celebrities

Before the invention of social media, it was like this for millennia: With the best will in the world, you could no longer read the news about your own death because you were dead. Tradition has it that even Jesus had to be resurrected in order to really notice the extent to which his temporary departure was making the rounds.

Nowadays, however, a lot of celebrities find out on social media that they went across the Wupper without having to strain the miracle of the resurrection for this information. "I keep reading that I'm dead. I hope these stories aren't true," sighed actor Morgan Freeman on Facebook in 2012 after the news of his death - also on Facebook - had received hundreds of thousands of likes.

Guns N 'Roses frontman Axl Rose did not even deny in 2014 that he - as spread on the internet - has blessed the earthly. But one question plagued Rose on Twitter: "If I'm dead, will I still have to pay taxes?"

Madonna mourns instead of Maradona

As much as users crave death reports, they are not picky. The English tabloid newspaper "Daily Mail" reported: When the kicker Diego Maradona died recently, the death of the pop icon Madonna was mourned in around 114,000 tweets.

Madonna is alive, Maradonna is no longer (gettyimages / Michael Loccisano)

Conversely, last autumn, it was not the audience, but the serious Radio France Internationale that ensured excess mortality among the celebrities. In addition to Queen Elizabeth, Pelé and Brigitte Bardot, RFI accidentally blew out hundreds of celebrities via online obituary, which - as far as we know - is actually still flickering today.

Facebook obituary for Mark Zuckerberg

The uncanny longing for death has even infected the algorithms of the big data corporations. Don't you think so? Then please explain the following: Why did Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg read an automated Facebook obituary for Mark Zuckerberg a few years ago, which said: "We hope the people who love Mark find consolation in things that are shared here "?

When the news about the false report went around the world, by the way, a reader commented in "Die Zeit": "When Facebook says you are dead, then that is a fact [...] to which you have to adapt!"

After all, the news of Zuckerberg's death wasn't a Trojan horse. Often such false reports are used disrespectfully to smuggle in viruses and to sniff out data. And in the end, the celebrity lives on happily, but your own laptop will bite the grass or your bank account will collapse.

Arno Orzessek (Erik Zimmermann) Arno Orzessek. Son of a worker and farmer since 1966, born in Osnabrück. Studied philosophy and other things in Cologne. Thanks to "sent in unsolicited": SZ and DLF author; also: two novels. Has lived in Berlin since 2000. In view of the disorder of things, thematically unspecialized metabolism specialist. World experience by motorbike and racing bike, plus reading. Radio ideal: Spiritual in sensual language; Goal: Thought Transfer; Method: work on the text; Constitution: next please!

"God is dead"

Either way: The linguistically most original news of death is older than social media. In April 1964 the dpa ticked that CPSU leader Nikita Khrushchev had died due to an "acute hephocapalytirosises". The WDR reported it that way - and got back in touch 15 minutes later. Now, as the "Spiegel" blasphemed at the time, "the dpa report died". Because Khrushchev had no "Hephocapalytirosises", there is no infirmity of this name - and soon thereafter there was no longer a dpa office in Moscow. The CPSU did not feel well entertained by the fake news.

Unfortunately, there is no binding information in the whole network about whether the most famous death news of the modern age belongs to the fake news. It comes from Friedrich Nietzsche: "God is dead."