Celebrity death hoaxes happen from time to time — in fact, one of the first big viral pieces of web fakery was a 2001 report that Britney Spears had died in a car crash. So when we see news that a celebrity has died, it's good to be cautious.

On the other hand, we're not monsters. If someone did actually die — whether Prince or Tom Petty or a favorite YouTube star — we'd like to express our emotions about it. We'd like to share the news with others. It's emotional, and we don't want to treat it like a research project. Luckily, it really isn't hard to see if something is a death hoax or not. Just check trusted coverage.

How do you do this? Well, consider this report that "Keanu Reeves is dead."


Is it true? If it was, we'd expect there to be lots of news stories about it. So we check.


What do we find? The top stories about Keanu Reeves are about him making a surprise stop to sign a fan's yard sign. Doesn't sound very dead! Just to be sure, we search for Keanu Reeves dead and the only thing that comes up are stories about how a video game with "Death" in the title almost featured Reeves.

Conclusion: Keanu Reeves is not dead.

Most big stories get covered by multiple outlets

What does it look like when some one actually has died? This is a bit morbid, but the morning I am writing this MMA boxer Maxim Dadashev passed away due to injuries sustained in a fight. He was a minor figure you've probably not heard of, and yet when we search Maxim Dadashev dead in Google News search we find there are already multiple stories confirming this.


We click through to the USA Today story here, but we really didn't need to. Just seeing this many results on the news page is good enough for us to believe a claim of this sort. Go ahead and share this story, comment on it, and feel what emotions you have to.