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William Shatner Criticizes Facebook Hoax Ad Announcing His Death (people.com) 76

"William Shatner is alive and well -- in fact, he turned 87 on Thursday, so the actor was not pleased when he saw an ad on Facebook sharing a story about his alleged death," writes the Hollywood Reporter. An anonymous reader quotes People: "@WilliamShatner I thought you might want to know you're dead," a Twitter user wrote, along with a screenshot of the ad. Less than a half hour later, Shatner posted his own message calling out the social media company for spreading the phony news... "Thought you were doing something about this?" he wrote. Several hours after Shatner's tweet, Facebook's director of product management Rob Leathern messaged the actor to let him know that the ad had been removed. "Thank you," Shatner replied. "I'm not planning on dying so please continue to block those kinds of ads..." Fortunately, Shatner's in good company when it comes to celebrity death hoaxes... News of Sylvester Stallone's fake death originally began circulating on Facebook in 2016.
In late 2016 Mark Zuckerberg posted that "We take misinformation seriously..." while adding that "we know people want accurate information. We've been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously." Ironically, that announcement appeared next to a similar fake ad announcing that Hugh Hefner was dead, though at the time Hefner was very much alive.

"We've made significant progress," Zuckerberg's post continued, "but there is more work to be done."
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William Shatner Criticizes Facebook Hoax Ad Announcing His Death

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  • by DeplorableCodeMonkey ( 4828467 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @11:37AM (#56318933)

    With Facebook's resources they should already have algorithms that can roughly pinpoint who started the hoax, ID them and publicly castigate them or ban them.

    Or even better, the originators just get a notice saying "Facebook Legal has determined that you are one of the first/most influential sharers of this hoax. All information about this defamatory post has been preserved in the event that the target wishes to pursue legal action."

    I think that would cause enough puckering sphincters to start changing attitudes.

    • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @12:18PM (#56319107)
      Maybe just provide information about who it was who paid for the ad. There has always been bad information on the internet, it's just that now it's easier to hide the source. On usenet, if a particular poster was suspected of spreading bullshit, you could just killfile him. Allow the same on facebook.
      • There has always been bad information on the internet, it's just that now it's easier to hide the source.

        It's not just the internet. Let's not forget Richard Wilkins back in 2009 reported that Jeff Goldblum had died on set while filming in New Zealand. Jeff Goldblum is still alive and well. There have always been such gaffes and there always will be, internet or not.

    • With Facebook's resources they should already have algorithms that can roughly pinpoint who started the hoax, ID them and publicly castigate them or ban them.

      Or even better, the originators just get a notice saying "Facebook Legal has determined that you are one of the first/most influential sharers of this hoax. All information about this defamatory post has been preserved in the event that the target wishes to pursue legal action."

      I think that would cause enough puckering sphincters to start changing attitudes.

      Forget algorithms. Computers are stupid. You can always game any automated system. Put people to work. Require verification of news posts, you know, like actual journalists always did before the inter-webs put them out of their jobs.

      • Forget algorithms. Computers are stupid. You can always game any automated system. Put people to work. Require verification of news posts, you know, like actual journalists always did before the inter-webs put them out of their jobs.

        "Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter."

    • The real message should have read:

      "You're dead, Jim." -- Bones

    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      Assuming the hoax actually started on facebook, and not somewhere else... Perhaps someone saw the news somewhere else and decided to share it on facebook?

      What we need is not less information, but more, including education... People shouldn't believe everything they read regardless of where it comes from, they should always question what they hear and verify any claims.

      Censorship is a slippery slope, and censoring provably false information is only the first stage because its easy to argue for... It moves on

  • by Blinkin1200 ( 917437 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @11:45AM (#56318981)

    "We take misinformation seriously..." unless it leads to ad revenue.

    Any and all currencies accepted. Thank you.

  • ...his career.

  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @11:52AM (#56319005) Homepage

    Erroneously reporting the death of a famous person in various forms of media has been going on a lot longer than Facebook has been around.

    Bill Shatner should be pleased that people actually care whether or not he's alive - there are a lot of octogenarian TV & movie stars that when somebody hears their name reply with "I thought they were dead."

    • Not even a Star Trek first...James Doohan was reported dead online years before he really was.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Bill Shatner should be pleased that people actually care whether or not he's alive - there are a lot of octogenarian TV & movie stars that when somebody hears their name reply with "I thought they were dead."

      I think that's just as much to do with the way the person chooses to retire. Some of them are like "I'm done", they've lived in the spotlight most their lives and when it's no longer part of the "job" they clam up completely, no interviews, no memoirs, no events, no celebrity dinners, nothing. It's like they dropped off the earth because they wanted to just be that old man in the park playing with his grandkids and great-grandkids.

      Other people seem to be enjoying it (or milking it?) to the last, even if you

    • There was tons of dead celebrity hoaxes passed though email back in the day. I'd be exited if people care enough to put the effort to create those about me.

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @11:59AM (#56319029)
    Automation doesn't work. These dumb social media companies, along with online traditional media companies all thought they hit the goldmine because they could automate their advertising platforms, and fire all of their salespeople and advertising copy editors and ad designers. Well, they don't work, and they need to be held responsible for the crap their pushing. I'm so very sorry that they might have to go back to paying humans to do the job of selling advertising, but I doubt there's another good alternative.
  • ....maybe they were just talking about his career.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    His company needs to die with him.

  • So, what is someone selling with (faux) dead actors for sponsors? Longevity vitamins?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who the f.ck does things like that ? And more importantly what do they have to gain from it ? This is not like starting some sort of fake news on a forum or twitter and letting it spread just for the lulz. This is a fake ad, somebody somewhere actually had to PAY for this ad, and probably not a trivial amount of money. Surely they expected some kind of payback, preferably significantly more than what the ad costs.

    I may be missing something, but I just don't get their business model.

    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      Perhaps shatner himself or a publicist working on his behalf paid for the ad in order to draw attention. It wouldn't be the first time a fading celebrity did something to try and become relevant again.

  • I saw that Abe Vigoda also posted "I'm still alive too..."
  • He's just pining for the fjords...

  • by pipingguy ( 566974 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @12:26PM (#56319123)

    [insert photo of popular celebrity here]

    I think that's how this clickscam works.

    "Oh, no, we weren't saying [celebrity] died, that's just an image from the story in which [celebrity] is mentioned. It's actually [celebrity]'s housemaid who died."

  • Facebook used to get away with a lot of misinformation. No more.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Did he forget and wear a red shirt by mistake one day?

  • by ToTheStars ( 4807725 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @01:41PM (#56319475)
    ...you're dead, Jim!
  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @02:05PM (#56319593)
    The last time he died was in Star Trek Generations.
  • Shatner isn't dead, though his career is in the critical care ward.
    As to Stallone, he didn't die in 2016, he actually died back in the 90s, and it's just his zombie corpse that's been keeping his career alive. Unfortunately it can't pronounce "brains" properly so a lot of people in Hollywood didn't even realize it.
  • It's like everyday is April 1st on facebook.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990

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