If the internet proves anything, it’s that you can be wrong, even when you’re right.

On Friday, January 31, Media Mass, a site best known for manufacturing the death hoaxes that your naïve friends occasionally post to Facebook, posted a story that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was dead. Early Sunday, news broke that the star of such films as Boogie Nights, Almost Famous and Capote died from a possible drug overdose in his New York apartment.

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The site reported the information as debunked as of February 2, with a link to a page that explains that Media Mass is satirical, with aims to “expose with humour, exaggeration and ridicule the contemporary mass production and mass consumption we observe.”

Nevertheless, their mission statement fails to explain why it’s funny or insightful to create a page able to be replaced with any actor of the reader’s choosing that “reports” a death hoax. If you type “Will-Smith” into the url for the same story, for example, an article containing the same text (except for his credits) pops up.

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A cursory look at the site’s search result for additional articles about Hoffman reveals that the site apparently approaches all of its content in the same way, creating frameworks for sensationalistic stories where the names of relevant (or irrelevant) actors and actresses are interchangeable.

Sadly, exposing Media Mass’ despicable opportunism – or at the very least, terrible taste – only brings awareness to the site. But media outlets that discovered news of the fake hoax were quick to discredit the article and recognize the site as a dubiously credible source (at best).

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