American basketball legend Kobe Bryant along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others lost their lives in a tragic helicopter crash on 26th of January, this year, when their helicopter crashed into a fog-covered hillside near Calabasas, California.
Many news items published images of Kobe’s devastated wife, Vanessa Bryant, after the shocking loss of her beloved ones. In this backdrop, few websites published a news article claiming Vanessa Bryant had committed suicide due to depression. Kobe Bryant’s untimely demise had already left fans and haters across the globe stunned. Couple with news of his wife committing suicide, being unable to cope up with depression would just be unbearable for the people associated with the Bryant family. However, when we checked out the news, we found that the news of Kobe’s wife Vanessa committing suicide was a distasteful hoax. Let’s find out how this hoax was created and spread.
Facebook user Sadursan Krish along with number of others had shared this news link from their Facebook profiles and number of users had reported this as false.
We checked the Facebook posts and all of them were linked to a news article posted by a website called w0rldnews.g0ldenbuzzers.com , with the caption “BREAKING NEWS: VANESSA BRYANT Recorded her SUICIDE After Depression Attack this Morning. | BBC-News”
First we clicked the video on that website and it was redirected to another site t0pstories.caldomns.com and a video started playing with the news anchor revealing “We have very sad news to share with you today…” We noticed that while the title of the video indicated “BBC News” the logo in the video frame was “Fox News”
After a few seconds a popup message appeared with a warning stating that “This video may show graphic content (18+)… Share to continue watching” and displayed an “Uncover now” button below the video frame as below. We noticed number of advertisements and sponsored content on these web pages as well. The time of publishing of article was also changing thus concealing the actual time when the video was posted.
We caution users, not to click on such links without verification. We checked the page source information and confirmed that the link had a redirect into a Youtube video. When we clicked on the “Uncover Now” button before playing the video there was a popup message as below requesting the used to share the link on their Facebook timeline in order to continue to the video, a clear indication that link was created to increase number of shares on Facebook.
When we shared the link on Facebook profile, the link was redirected to “Sky News Live” Youtube feed. When we inspected the shared link on Facebook profile it indicated a reference to “TV News” which was again a bogus website.
To verify these claims we inspected Vanessa Bryant’s Instagram account. On 30th of January, few days after the tragic incident, we noticed a post on how devastated she was along with Kobey’s other daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.
On Valentine’s Day, three weeks after the death of her husband, Vanessa Bryant posted another touching message on her Instagram account which read “To my forever Valentine, I love you so much. Missing you so much on your favorite holiday. Te amo per sempre. Kisses to you and Gigi in heaven. Happy Valentine’s Day, my babies. With all my love, your boo-boo”
We noticed number of similar touching posts during last week on her Instagram account, which had been shared on many news sites as well. We checked for any news about her death being reported on mainstream and on BBC news as per the claim and could not find any related news. In fact, we found a number of other fact checks on this false claim which had started circulating initially during early parts of February
Therefore, from our investigation it is clear that the claims about the death of Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa Bryant are false and she has been active on social media after the initial emergence of these bogus website claims, which had started in early February.
Title:Rumors of Vanessa Bryant committing suicide out of depression go viral on social media.Fact Check By: Nelson Mani