Howard Swains recently reported in Wired
on the phenomenon of fake online deaths
. He writes:
Many online tales of death and suffering are works of complete fiction, "pseuicides" dressed up as real-life catastrophes. Some are contrived to titillate or garner attention, some result from something more serious, and some are the result of a uniquely modern psychiatric disorder known as Munchausen by internet.
In two investigations between 2007 and 2009, I encountered countless examples of fake deaths in all corners of the online world. A contributor to a knitting forum, for instance, faked her death rather than provide patterns she had been commissioned to design. A member of an online art gallery discovered that the 18-year-old, gay, male, lead-singer of a rock band, with whom she had developed a close friendship before he was killed in a car crash, was actually the work of two 14-year-old girls, who had entirely invented his life. A teenage British boy broke up with his real-life girlfriend to marry a 16-year-old online friend, later discovering (on her "death") that his deceased wife-to-be was a 12-year-old fantasist who had been sending photos of her older cousin and inventing graphic details of incest and rape.
No mention of the Kaycee Nicole Swenson
case, which I thought was one of the most famous ones. Perhaps it's because Swains focuses a lot on LiveJournal examples. But overall, an interesting article.