In late November 2023, false rumors circulated claiming that comedian and actor Ben Stiller had died. The claim spread across social media sites like TikTok, where one post gained over 130,000 views. However, the TikTok post about Stiller's supposed death offered no evidence for an onlooker to independently verify the claim.
@entertainment.new77 #3 #FAMOUS #WHO #DIED #TODAY #NOVEMBER #STARS #entertainment #24th #usa #trend #fyp #hot #news ♬ original sound - entertainment.new
In addition to the social media posts, a November 2023 article on MediaMass drew attention to the alleged celebrity death, calling the death report a hoax. But MediaMass is not a reliable source of information, describing its articles as "satire,” with a page on its website claiming its goal is to “expose with humor, exaggeration and ridicule the contemporary mass production and mass consumption that we observe."
The hoax claimed Stiller died of prostate cancer, a cause of death chosen likely because the comedian was diagnosed with the disease in June 2014. Stiller wrote in a 2016 Medium post that he had his tumor surgically removed in September 2014 and has been cancer-free since.
As of November 2023, there was no evidence that the actor and comedian died of prostate cancer or of other causes. Had that actually happened, reputable news outlets like The Associated Press would have published obituaries to memorialize Stiller's death. No such obituaries exist.
Celebrity death hoaxes are a form of junk news, designed to get gullible readers to linger on a website or engage with a social media user because a famous person is involved. Such articles are often clickbait, if not outright phishing scams. In rare cases, the unfactual rumors are based on faulty reporting or misunderstandings.