Fact Check

William H. Macy Death Hoax

A prank news site falsely claimed 'Shameless' star William H. Macy died of a heart attack 'last night.'

Published March 13, 2017

 (Wikimedia Commons)
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
In March 2017, actor William H. Macy died of a heart attack at the age of 66.

In March 2017, actor William H Macy of the popular Showtime comedy-drama Shameless became the target of a "prank news" celebrity death hoax.

A very real-looking preview article announcing his death circulated on Facebook and Twitter, with a headline claiming "William H. Macy (66) has died from a heart attack last night[.]":

But after several seconds (long enough to trick users into sharing the prank themselves), the page shifted to display a "you got owned" message:

Prank news sites are slightly different from their fake news counterparts, allowing users to generate headlines that look authentic in order to trick their friends on social media. But generalized hoaxes such as the Macy death "prank" tend to quickly outstrip a single user's friends and spread widely on social media platforms.

William H. Macy isn't the first celebrity subject of a death hoax created via the site in question, EarlyView.net. In February 2017, the outfit promulgated a similar hoax about Walking Dead star Andrew Lincoln.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.