- On Monday, the hashtag #RipShane became on top Twitter trend after a faux-TMZ account tweeted that the embattled top YouTuber Shane Dawson had died.
- Representatives for Dawson confirmed to Insider that Dawson is alive.
- People used the #RipShane tag to jokingly lament the star’s death, but others felt that the hashtag wasn’t appropriate.
- The hoax comes after weeks of controversy surrounding Dawson, who came under fire in June after pieces of his old racist and otherwise offensive content resurfaced.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
On Monday, a hoax that embattled YouTuber Shane Dawson was dead became a top trend on Twitter.
Just to get it out of the way early: Dawson is very much alive, his representatives confirmed to Insider.
Dawson has come under fire recently as people resurfaced old, offensive pieces of his content that contained examples of blackface, sexualizing children and animals, and racist language. Since the end of June, Dawson and his fiancé Ryland Adams have been largely silent on social media, with the exception of Ryland posting a photo celebrating Shane’s birthday on July 19.
On July 27, the #RipShane hashtag made the rounds on Twitter, with many tweeting day-of that the hashtag was trending. The hashtag — which suggested that Dawson may have died — appears to have originated from a viral tweet from Twitter user @bocasclouds. A number of other fan accounts also appear to have put out some of the earliest tweets using #RipShane.
—edar (@bocasclouds) July 27, 2020
At the time of tweeting, however, screenshots circulating on Twitter appear to show that @bocasclouds was masquerading as the TMZ Twitter account, using a “TMZ” account name, picture, and fake verified symbol. TMZ is frequently one of the first sites to break celebrity news, including celebrity deaths, and came under fire earlier this year for breaking the news of Kobe Bryant’s death before police were able to notify his family.
Twitter did not immediately respond for comment on whether the tweet violated any of their policies.
—KEEM 🍿 (@KEEMSTAR) July 28, 2020
@bocasclouds’ tweet circulated on Twitter (it currently stands at approximately 10,000 likes) and people began to use the #RipShane hashtag to fan the flames, with others posting what seemed like genuine messages about the YouTuber’s apparent death as well as tweets roasting him. One tweet included what appeared to be a fabricated screenshot of Jeffree Star liking an #RipShane tweet, but no tweets including the hashtag currently appear in Star’s likes on Twitter.
—soapy|| fan account (@yuhnotes) July 27, 2020
—evan (@DynastyOfEvan) July 27, 2020
—IM BABY (@CherryCarTree) July 27, 2020
However, the hashtag was also filled with people questioning whether or not Dawson was dead.
—𝙇𝙖𝙮𝙡𝙖𖧵⁷|𝗯𝗹𝗺 (@Wiiuxx) July 27, 2020
—𝙏𝙝𝙚𝘽𝙖𝙙𝙎𝙣𝙞𝙥𝙚𝙧𝟐.𝟎 (@TheBadSniper1) July 27, 2020
Others argued that making jokes about Dawson’s death wasn’t appropriate.
—Clαιre🧸 (@ClaireBear11223) July 27, 2020
—Void is watching DreamTeam 💙 (@VoidExtra) July 27, 2020
And of course, like any popular, stan-driven hashtag, #RipShane was full of fancams.
—luis (@badtoluis) July 27, 2020
—ً (@cixheII) July 27, 2020
This is far from the first time that this kind of hashtag meme has spread on Twitter. Earlier in July, people trended the hashtag #RIPEllen, seemingly lamenting the popular television host’s death after rumors spread that her show was set to be canceled. Like Dawson, Ellen has also been a recent controversial figure after people criticized her comments comparing her self-isolation in a mansion to imprisonment. Recently, BuzzFeed reported that former employees of the show said that its work culture was toxic, sparking an internal investigation. Other public figures, like President Donald Trump, have also gotten tagged with #RIP hashtags in the past.
Similarly, #RipShane comes after a long period of intense controversy surrounding the YouTuber, who has been heavily implicated in recent drama involving members of the beauty community like Tati Westbrook and Jeffree Star. After Dawson posted a video “taking accountability” for his past actions, companies including Target and Morphe made strides to distance themselves from him and his products.