In late July 2023, online users were searching for "breaking news" in regard to Facebook rumors swirling about world-renowned singer Celine Dion's health, including to find out if she was dead. However, as some of those users likely began to recognize, the rumor was nothing more than an apparent death hoax.
In this story, we've presented our findings in what appeared to be a concerted effort on a number of odd Facebook pages to make advertising revenue based on misleading claims that directed users to articles with old news. We'll also look at the reality of Dion's health status, including the fact that she announced in December 2022 that she was diagnosed with stiff-person syndrome.
Strange Facebook Pages Promoted the Rumor
Beginning on July 29, several strange Facebook pages all published posts that could easily be understood either as an announcement of Dion's death or an indication that there were new developments about her personal health.
The posts all said, "The end of a legend. Prayers needed for Celine Dion. Check the comments." Here's one of many examples:
It is not a normal practice for a credible publisher to ask users to click on a link in the comments.
Below these odd Facebook posts, we found comments pinned by page creators that contained links to obscure websites.
In another post, a link in the comments showed a headline for mamasuncut.com. It read, "Celine Dion Gets Vulnerable, Opens Up About Heartbreaking and Debilitating Health Issues."
In two other links that we saw in multiple posts' comments, a headline from secretlifeofmom.com read, "Céline Dion Reveals Diagnosis with Rare Neurological Disease Called Stiff-Person Syndrome," while a different headline from techmonext.com said, "Sad News: Celine Dion Shares Heartfelt Confirmation Today."
In other words, there was an organized effort by one or multiple creators on several Facebook pages, all within the same three days of July 29-31, to publish news about Dion's health, including hinting that she was dead or was about to die. The goal of this effort by the Facebook pages appeared to be to drive users to view ads on the websites, which meant revenue.
Dion's Health News Was Months Old
The truth about all of these articles was that they published old news about Dion's health. There was no new "sad news" that came out "today," as promoted by techmonext.com.
Taking the article from secretlifeofmom.com as another example, it was nothing more than a reposted story that People.com originally published on Dec. 15, 2022. The person or people behind secretlifeofmom.com simply copied and pasted the entire People.com story, pasted it into a new article, and republished it, seemingly without permission.
In that old People.com story, the article described Dion's announcement to her fans regarding a health diagnosis, including the cancellation of upcoming tour dates.
"Céline Dion revealed Thursday morning in a tearful Instagram video that she's been diagnosed with Stiff-Person Syndrome, sharing that the condition would force her to postpone and cancel a series of upcoming concert dates as she learns about the rare condition and how it impacts her life," People.com reported.
Months later, on May 26, 2023, Dion announced on social media that she had made the decision to also cancel 42 European tour dates, the last of which was scheduled in April 2024, due to her ongoing treatment of the disorder.
I'm so sorry to disappoint all of you once again... and even though it breaks my heart, it's best that we cancel everything until I'm really ready to be back on stage... I'm not giving up… and I can't wait to see you again!" – Celine xx…
More info?https://t.co/DHUch7W7OF pic.twitter.com/bgszxVd1za
— Celine Dion (@celinedion) May 26, 2023
Also on May 26, The Associated Press reported about how the disorder was affecting Dion's ability to perform:
Earlier this year, Dion said stiff-person syndrome was causing spasms that affect her ability to walk and sing.
"Unfortunately, the spasms affect every aspect of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing the way I'm used to," she said.
Stiff-person syndrome causes rigid muscles and painful muscle spasms, which can be triggered by such things as loud noises or light touch. The cause isn't known, but it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. Severe cases can cause difficulty walking and hunched posture.
More than two months after this announcement about the cancellation of European tour dates, the aforementioned odd Facebook pages, in an apparent concerted effort, all published the posts that misleadingly claimed Dion was either dead or had brand new developments to announce.
This story will be updated if further developments come to light.