Hoax: Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) Is Dead

Death Rumors on Facebook May Link to Scams

Rowan Atkinson in Love Actually
Photo courtesy Universal

Be forewarned, Facebook posts claiming comic actor Rowan Atkinson committed suicide or died while trying to save someone's life on a movie set are false. These rumors circulated on Facebook labeled as a CNN News, FOX News, or BBC News update with a very alarming report and link to information about a suicide note and video.

This report was a scam. Not only was it a scam in 2013, it was repeated in 2016.

Hoax: Rowan Atkinson Death Announcement on Facebook

A typical version reads as follows:

CNN News update - English Actor Comedian Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) died at 58 after committing suicide. The comedian committed suicide right after the producer remove him on Johnny English 3. Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) recorded a suicide video with a message to his producer and fans around the world. (watch more) >> http://cnn202.tumblr.com

Death Hoax Post Links to Malicious Apps: Do Not Click

Links from these posts redirect users to rogue Facebook apps that request permission to access their profile information and post on their behalf. If permission is granted, the posts replicate on friends' timelines.

Do not click on these links! If a blurb like the one above appears on your timeline, delete it so others won't be misled. If you've inadvertently added a rogue app and want to remove it, Facebook shows you how to remove an app.

If you have clicked on the link and soon afterward you get a pop-up or error screen saying you need to click to scan your computer or perform another action, immediately suspect it is a scam and do not follow the instructions. Close the browser window and exit any active programs.

Death Hoaxes Likely to Recur

If a death hoax and rogue link worked, they are likely to be repeated in the future for the same celebrity or other celebrities. This hoax appeared in 2013, then returned with only minor details changed in 2016. Similar postings circulated purporting Nicholas Cage and Jackie Chan were dead. 

How to Check If a Celebrity Has Died

Signs that a Facebook post may be a hoax include links that are not specific to a trusted news source. For example, some of the links in this hoax were to a Tumblr.com address rather than a news site's address. If the posting is coming from a recently created Facebook page, such as "R.I.P. Rowan Atkinson" rather than the celebrity's official Facebook fan page of a long-standing and large following, it should be suspect. Look up the celebrity's official social media and check for postings there.

Check trusted news sources directly rather than following a link when you see an announcement. Go directly to a news site and search for the celebrity's name, or check their entertainment section. Do not trust trending taglines on social media, as they may have been set in motion by the hoax.

You can also do a quick search for the name of the celebrity and "death hoax" to see what results you get. There are a few sites that compile lists of actual celebrity deaths, and you may check them.