Tributes continued to pour in Thursday morning for the late Helen Thomas, a former member of the White House press corps who died at the age of 92. Unfortunately, Thomas passed away three years ago - on July 20, 2013.

Morgan Fairchild helps the rumor spread.

A Washington Post article about her passing is displayed prominently on Twitter. The timestamp on the story is June 20, 2016; but when the article is open it shows it was published in 2013.

One of those reporting Thomas’ death to Twitter audiences was actress Morgan Fairchild. Before she deleted her tweet and issued two acknowledgements that she had made a mistake, her initial tweet reporting Thomas’ death was retweeted more than 40 times. Fairchild was not the source of the rumor.

Rumor largely limited to Twitter.

The incorrect death information appears to largely be limited to Twitter.

A search of Google Trends, a comprehensive listing of subjects ranked by the number of Google web searches, shows no movement on the internet at large to learn more about Thomas. In addition to being a source for good information, Twitter is a source for a huge amount of misinformation, including numerous unfounded reports of celebrity deaths.

Don Knotts is dead, too.

Twitter, obviously, is not the only source of misinformation among social media sites.

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Facebook is a great source of unsubstantiated rumors and “facts” that are simply made up on the spot. One recurring report is that comedic actor Don Knotts has died. That is true, but the former Barney Fife passed away in 2006, not recently.

Departments of misinformation.

While social media sites are a good source for information, the sites are best used as a beginning point to gather more information from elsewhere.

Anyone can make up a story - sometimes disguised as being from a prominent News agency - and the story spreads quickly. Searching for more information is important when hearing any report from any source; but it is especially important not to rely on social media outlets for facts.

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