June 8th, 2010
10:58 PM ET
At CNN, we are increasingly called upon to see if there's any truth to the celebrity death rumors that often swirl around cyberspace. Just this past Sunday one of them crossed my desk. James Avery, who played "Uncle Phil" on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," had died, according to a rumor on Twitter.
I fired off an email to his publicist, Cynthia Snyder, and within a couple of hours she confirmed that Avery was "indeed alive and well – just had a lovely wedding anniversary get away and chuckled at the hoax. He just completed a project with Alfonso Ribeiro [another "Fresh Prince" alum] directing."
But when I caught up with Avery at the premiere of the remake of "The Karate Kid," he definitely wasn't "chuckling."
"Did you see that on Twitter?" he asked. "I don't even know where it came from. Pissed me off, I know that. I mean, really, they're going to take away what little career I have left. My mother was scared. See, I don't understand this whole Twitter, Facebook stuff. I don't get it. Make a phone call. Talk to somebody."
It's yet another example of how the echo chamber of the Internet can magnify falsehoods and innuendos, and a reminder of the real impact rumors have on people's lives.
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