Michael J Fox death hoax sparks outrage online
If there's one Hollywood celebrity out there who pretty much nobody has a bad word to say about, it's Michael J Fox. The Canadian actor is best known for playing the iconic role of Marty McFly in the classic time-travel caper Back to the Future. However, for the last few years Fox has retreated away from the limelight and mostly stuck to voiceover work. Why? Because a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease has made him the face of the condition for many, and the myriad health issues that come with it have made acting incredibly challenging for him. Despite that, he's still working to this day, and is a prominent activist in his own right.
Fox first started displaying symptoms of Parkinson's disease back in 1991, while filming the rom-com Doc Hollywood, and was diagnosed with it formally in 1992. For a time he was extremely depressed and turned to drinking as a coping mechanism. However, in 1998 he managed to pull himself out of a downward spiral and went public with his condition. He even formed The Michael J. Fox Foundation, an organisation with the aim of funding research into potential cures for Parkinson's disease. He's come a long way since doctors first gave him the bad news: he was told that the disease would overtake him in less than a decade. Yet now, more than 25 years later, he's still going strong.
That's probably why a fake news story about him that circulated social media this week has provoked such outrage, and left many of the Canadian actor's fans reeling.
In case you missed the erroneous headline: on August 4, a website which looked eerily similar to Yahoo! News published an article entitled "Beloved Actor and Back to the Future Star Michael J. Fox Has Died at the Age of 57," and stated that he had passed away as a result of Parkinson's related health complications. The story was completely unverified and cited no sources, and yet it seemed to come from a respectable news outlet, which left many readers scratching their heads.
The false news article stated: "On August 2, Michael J Fox arrived at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, where he was self-admitted with complications attributed to Parkinson’s Disease. According to Chief Coroner Jonathan Lucas M.D., Fox had developed pneumonia, a common problem occurring in Parkinson’s sufferers in the later stages of the disease. Tragically, Fox died at 11:24 this morning. Doctors confirmed Fox passed away peacefully and was surrounded by friends and family."
However, the good news is that the report was a complete hoax. Michael J Fox is definitely not dead, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation has not released any statement regarding the actor’s health. In fact, according to fact-checking site Snopes, it seems as though the article itself came from a junk news website which often spreads fake news by imitating the appearance of the actual Yahoo! News site. Social media users were elated when they discovered that the beloved actor was alive and well, but it just goes to show: don't believe everything you read!