From the Editors
Two celebrities didn't die this week, despite what the Internet said. But only one of them lives on. Which is not as complicated as it seems. Just stupid. For starters, a bogus outfit called Global Associated News generated a false alarm that Eddie Murphy died in a snowboard accident. The shocking non-news went a little viral. "The alleged accident, of course, occurred in Zermatt, Switzerland, where Murphy has been 'killed' about a dozen times in the past, including last month - twice," says GossipCop. "We're not sure why Murphy is such a popular target of death hoaxes, but this new death is just as unfunny as the first hundred." Forbes tech blogger DaveThier explains what happened: Global Associated is so prolific at spewing false celebrity destruction because it's a website that "allows people to plug in a celebrity name, along with a few other details, and generate a fake news story...Who knows just how many of these are produced a day, but it only takes one to catch on to viral channels and make a boatload of traffic." Ah ok. It always helps to understand where the stupid comes from.
ith that in mind, here's more celebrity demise news that hit the Web this week: Bob Denver, who played Gilligan is gone! The Visual Side of Journalism rounds up a mess of new tweets lamenting the death and celebrating the life of Gilligan, with messages like "rest in peace, little buddy." People were retweeting the breaking news all week with links to obits for the comic actor in the New York Times and at MSNBC. Happily - or maybe that's not the right word? - this was another fake death report. Those obits ran in 2005, when Denver actually passed away. "They keep killing Bob Denver," reports Tralfaz, which says you can't completely blame the Internet for this. It reprints text from a 1961 newspaper article about the epidemic of fake Bob Denver death reports! So, yeah, we didn't start the fire! It's possible that the origin of the current Bob Denver re-deathing surge was a legitimate obit for Steve Franken, a longtime TV actor who co-starred in the "Many Lives of Dobie Gillis" with Denver.
In other rumor and scuttlebutt, Apple supposedly is getting ready to announce the iPhone 5 on September 12. People know this partly because of a cryptic invitation to an announcement that says "because of reasons." Also because people in China seem to actually have prototypes of the iPhone 5 in hand and are showing them in videos. Reports Mashable, which embeds a sneaky-peek video: "Unlike most video leaks from Chinese tech news sites -- in this case, Vgoo.com -- we can vouch for this one. It matches a working iPhone 5 model we've seen independently, via sources very close to the production process. It's entirely possible that the video features a fake iPhone 5 -but if so, it's a very good fake." So, that settles not much! Anyway, whether that fake video is real or not, Apple seems to have come out and revealed that the iPhone 5 is coming - because check out the shadow of the 12, genius!
TechRepublic has decided that the iPhone 5 is "guaranteed to disappoint....The smart money is now on the new iPhone offering solid improvements rather than revolution. So, with no obvious killer feature, the big question is whether Apple's new smartphone is simply destined to dissatisfy." Likely new features are support for LTE wireless (yawn), a better camera (zzzzz), and a smaller dock connector (coma). But wake up and never mind that: All Things D has analysts predicting sales of 10 million units in the first week, thanks to "pent-up demand for the device could generate some massive early sales."
It's not entirely clear what that pent-up demand is for - is there some feature that current mobile phones desperately lack? But early adopters are fickle. Also: they are mostly male and white and in the SF area, according to a new Buzzfeed probe of three new web-based services. That's not really a surprise, but as Anil Dash points out metaphorically, at Dashes: "You can't start the revolution from the country club....Building a social tool for 'just us geeks' permanently privileges the few people who get in the door first, which means you're giving a huge leg up to those who already have a pretty good set of advantages to begin with."
Another tech goodie that was made available mostly to the privileged few - Facebook's stock - continues to suck eggs, and people are chattering about why. The NY Times's Andrew Ross Sorkin blamed CFO David Ebersman (not a character in the Aaron Sorkin movie, but maybe if they make a sequel). At Seeking Alpha Felix Salmon says the CFO can't control the ongoing stock price; he has to care more about the company's actual finances. At Business Insider, where founder Henry Blodget knows a thing or two about ways to move stock prices, a report notes that Mark Zuckerberg committed to not selling any Facebook shares for a year. That's really nice of him not to bail on his own company an may give the market confidence. Board members Marc Andreesen and Donald Graham are only selling a little. "Facebook's stock has been battered since the IPO, so any news about selling, buying, or standing still is a big deal," Biz Insider says. "In this case, it looks like good news because big insiders are going to sit on the stock." The big question raised here, of course: wait a minute, are Andrew Ross Sorkin and Aaron Sorkin related? Oddly, no, though both went to Scarsdale High in New York, and there have been e-mail mix ups.