The Internet has killed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for at least the fourth time, but don’t worry — the former Bethlehem resident is still kicking.
Johnson, 47, became the victim of yet another death hoax this week after a story went viral on social media under the headline “BBC: Dwayne The Rock Johnson Dies at 47 After A Terrible Stunt Attempt Failed.” The link included the use of the BBC’s logo in an image, but sent users to a fake news website. The BBC, meanwhile, has no such story in its website.
Despite the fake news, many fans expressed shock over Johnson’s apparent death via social media:
Frankly, however, they should have known better. This most-recent hoax is actually a rehash of a previous fake story that has appeared several times dating back to 2011. It previously reemerged in 2014 and 2017, though under various headlines that included attribution to news outlets like Fox indicating that Johnson was killed “after a terrible stunt” connected to an installment of the Fast & Furious film franchise, Snopes reports.
While Johnson has not yet addressed this year’s hoax publicly, in 2011, he let Facebook fans know they could still smell what The Rock is cooking in a post, writing that he is “still ‘Bringin’ It’ 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year — including leap year.”
The actor has, however, has been posting on Instagram amid the spread of rumors that he died. Primarily, Johnson has been promoting the upcoming Jumanji: The Next Level, which is scheduled for release on Dec. 13. That film stars Johnson alongside Philly native Kevin Hart, who is recovering from a serious car crash that left him with a severe back injury.
Johnson isn’t the only Pennsylvania-connected celebrity to experience an online death hoax recently. Last year, Sylvester Stallone was also a death hoax victim for the fourth time, with a false story indicating that the Rocky star died following a “battle with prostate cancer.” Stallone is still alive and well.
Celebrity death hoaxes are likely little more than a way to “stir the social media pot,” Temple University professor of psychological studies in education Frank Farley told the Inquirer last year, because “you know you’re going to get attention” by killing off a well-known figure.
“That is empowerment for some people,” Farley said. “They started this, and they know that they did it, and now take a look. It reminds me of arsonists, who sometimes hang out and watch their handiwork.”