On 16 May 2019, the entertainment website TMZ reported that former WWE wrestler Ric Flair (real name Richard Fliehr) was rushed to the hospital for a medical emergency. As Flair’s fans fretted over the news, a few opportunists started to spread false rumors about “Nature Boy’s” condition.
The official-looking Twitter account @WWEUmiverse, for example, posted an image of Flair and asserted that the wrestler had passed away. This account used a handle resembling the WWE’s actual account (at @WWEUniverse) in order to fool viewers with hoax stories. The fake account misspelled “Universe” with an “m”:
The disreputable website LFRSolutions also posted a fake news story about the wrestler’s health. Shortly after Flair was hospitalized, the website published a story claiming that Flair had been declared brain dead:
WWE Ric Flair has been declared brain dead after a medical emergency led him to being hospitalized earlier today. According to several news reports, it’s unclear what medical emergency led him to the hospital to begin with but sources have now said that the wrestling legend’s is no longer functioning although his other organs are still working at this time. Ric Flair is still on a breathing machine until his family gives permission to disconnect him but as of now, he is declared brain dead, thus legally dead.
LFRSolutions is not a genuine news source. This website frequently publishes misinformation, and although it does carry a disclaimer, that disclaimer is so small that most readers would need a magnifying glass to decipher it:
The disclaimer reads: “The stories posted on LFRSolutions.com are for entertainment purposes only. The stories may mimic articles found in the headlines, but rest assured they are purely satirical.”
Ric Flair was hospitalized on 16 May 2019, but reports about his dying or being declared brain dead were hoaxes that originated with disreputable sources.
Flair’s wife, Wendy Barlow, told TMZ that the wrestler was expected to make a full recovery: “Due to ongoing health complications, Ric was taken to the hospital and is expected to undergo a procedure tomorrow morning, after which he expects to fully recover.”