Rumors of the “Wonder Years” star’s death spread like wildfire thanks to confusion over the Emmys memorial tribute
Rumors of Fred Savage's death have been greatly exaggerated.
Tweets and reports of the untimely demise of the former "Wonder Years" star spread like wildfire on the internet thanks to a shady network of fake news websites and confusion over Sunday night's Emmys "In Memoriam" tribute.
A photo of another child star, Corey Haim, appeared during the tribute and was mistaken by many viewers as a picture of Savage — even though Haim's name appeared on the bottom of the screen.
Since "Wonder Years" ended its run in 1993, Savage, now 34, has worked as a director on several shows, including "Greek," "Party Down" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." But apart from sporadic guest appearances and his role on the short-lived NBC sitcom "Working," he's largely stayed behind the scenes.
In fact, he's stayed far enough out of the spotlight that much of America thought he might actually be dead.
After the Haim photo ran, the phrase "Fred Savage Is Dead" began trending on Google. Searches with Savage's name rose some 300 percent during the Emmy telecast. Twitter also was a hotbed of discussion about the current state of Savage.
The death rumors were fueled by a network of fake news sites programmed to generate content based on trending search terms.
For example, 12news.us generated a page that appeared to be a news article with the headline "Fred Savage Dead." Below the headline was mostly nonsensical, automatically generated text that often contradicts itself like, "Latest news about Fred Savage update dead, dead, Fred Savage, Fred Savage, Fred Savage Dead in a car accident?" Twitter spam bots helped spread links to these fake stories, which were then picked up by users of the popular social media site.
As of this writing, Savage's representation has not responded to a request for comment on this story, nor has the actor responded to the rumors. But he definitely isn't dead. Hours after the Emmys began Sunday evening, he posted a Tweet of his own.
"My first techno show kicks ass!!" Savage wrote.
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