1. James Avery, who played Uncle Phil on the ’90s hit series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, died on New Year’s Eve in Glendale, Calif., at age 68.
3. Shortly after the news broke, this tweet appeared, purporting to be from Fresh Prince co-star Will Smith.
It has been retweeted almost 100,000 times at time of writing.
R.I.P. Uncle Phil. All you real Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fans out there…
DON’T STOP #RETWEETING THIS.
5. It is quite obviously fake. For one thing, Will Smith isn’t actually on Twitter.
7. And for another, we’re pretty sure NBC does not commission TV shows by direct message.
This sort of hoax, whereby fake accounts exploit celebrity deaths in a bid to garner huge numbers of retweets, is becoming increasingly common. Last month, in the wake of Nelson Mandela’s death, a fake tweet purporting to be by Paris Hilton went viral.