Did comedian and actor Will Ferrell die Saturday after being in a two car crash on Thursday somewhere in Southern California? No, Ferrell is not dead, the story is not true. While he was actually in a car crash he escaped with minor injuries. The hoax about his death was spread by a known fake news website that is part of a larger network of such sites.
The untrue story about his death was published in an article on April 15, 2018 by a site using the domain breaking-cnn.com (which is not affiliated with the real CNN) which was titled "Will Ferrell dies after a two-car crash - #GoldCoast2018" (archived here) which opened:
Actor and comedian Will Ferrell has died in the wee hours of Saturday morning few hours after being hospitalized.
Ferrell was rushed to the hospital Thursday night after he was involved in a serious two-car crash in southern California.
The crash happened on Interstate 5 and caused the SUV that Ferrell was riding in to flip over, TMZ reported. Ferrell was one of three passengers in the SUV, and all were taken to a hospital, according to the celebrity news site. One of the two remaining injured passengers is reported to be in a critical condition.
It was unclear what caused the crash. The California Highway Patrol did not immediately respond to requests Friday for more information.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail might have though it was a real news article and the #GoldCoast2018 hashtag could have caused it to be seen by many who were following the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games:
Actor and comedian Will Ferrell has died in the wee hours of Saturday morning few hours after being hospitalized. Ferrell was rushed to the hospital Thursday night after he was involved in a serious two-car crash in southern California. The crash happened on Interstate 5 and caused the SUV that Ferrell was riding in to ...
But it has been widely reported that Ferrell was just fine after the crash:
CLOSE Will Ferrell has been released from the hospital "unhurt" and full of gratitude following a serious car accident on Thursday night. Ferrell and his colleague, Andrew Steele, were not seriously injured in the accident and released from an Orange County hospital, according to a statement released Friday by Ferrell's agents at United Talent Agency.
The site breaking-cnn.com appears to be part of a network of fake news websites that all have normal looking front pages with some generic news stories taken from other websites but which frequently publish hoax articles on other parts of the site that aren't immediately obvious to visitors. These stories frequently are death hoaxes about celebrities or other well known people that have been reported as being in the hospital by mainstream news sources. Some sites we've identified as part of the network include:
This site shares the IP address 22.214.171.124 with at least eight other sites in the network.
We wrote a longer exposé about that network here if you are interested in reading more about the kinds of tricks and tactics used by this network.
Some previous hoaxes from breaking-cnn.com include: