Everybody gets called for jury duty at one time or another, even famous people, but a spate of online news stories in 2016 claiming that various celebrities were summoned for jury duty in various towns and cities they don’t reside in turned out to be clickbait hoaxes published for no evident purpose other than accumulating social media shares and ad revenue.
One stated that pop singer Katy Perry was summoned for jury duty in Lorain, Ohio:
Another claimed that actor Johnny Depp was summoned in Columbia, Missouri:
Country singer and The Voice star Blake Shelton was supposedly summoned in Bentonville, Arkansas:
And so on. The celebrities varied, the locales varied (often there were multiple stories saying the same celebrity was called for jury duty in different places), but the wording of all the stories was basically the same:
COLUMBIA, Missouri – News reports out of Missouri are claiming that actor Johnny Depp has been selected for jury duty in Columbia, Missouri and will be required to attend a criminal trial in Columbia starting next month. The trial, which was not yet named, is scheduled to last roughly three weeks.
Depp owns property in the Columbia area and, based on Missouri law, can be required to serve on a jury. Depp’s publicist confirmed the news and stated that he was “happy to fulfill his civic duty as a member of a jury in Columbia.”
Social media was abuzz with the news that Johnny Depp would be spending a few weeks in Columbia with many of his fans more than a little excited about the prospect of seeing him in town.
The web addresses of the sites hosting the articles resembled those of actual news sites — e.g, www.newsdaily10.com, channel18news.com, km8news.com, etc. — but each featured the same disclaimer on its About Us page admitting that the content was bogus:
KM8 News is a fantasy news website. Most articles on km8news.com are satire or pure fantasy.
The stories were reminiscent of a previous round of hoaxes in 2016 claiming celebrities were moving to various obscure small towns all across the United States to escape the rat race.