This story is fake. Don't believe it.
Less than two weeks after American basketball star Kobe Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, at least six websites published a fake report claiming his wife Vanessa committed suicide.
From Feb. 3 to 6, sites broadcast.live-actual-events.com, kimetsunoyulun.live-l3ak-news.com, 0nlive.breakingthr0ugh.info, hottest.worldnewsfactory.today, live-br0adcast.uvcvpa.com, and netw0rk-channel.wereblogs.com uploaded the morbid hoax with their headlines reading,
- VANESSA BRYANT COMMITTED. SUlClDE After DEPRESSi0N. Attack this M0RNlNG.,, [BBC-NEWS]
- BREAKING NEWS: VANESSA BRYANT Recorded a SUICIDE VIDEO IN-FRONT of HER KIDS, After Depression this Morning. | BBC-News
- |.VANESSA. BRYANT COMMlTTED SUlClDE After DEPRESSlON. Attack this M0RNlNG.. BBC NEWS (sic)
- VANESSA..'BRYANT' DlED of SUlClDE After DEPRESSl0N, Attack this T0DAY. [BBC-NEWS.]....
All purported to have sourced their news from the British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) and used the BBC News logo in their thumbnails.
Vanessa Bryant is not dead. Neither has the BBC published any such report about her.
While remaining unphotographed since Kobe and Gianna’s deaths, Vanessa started sharing through her Instagram account last Jan. 29 how she is processing the loss of her husband and child. She recently announced the upcoming public memorial for the two, who died last Jan. 26.
In her latest Instagram post, uploaded on Feb. 10 U.S. time, she wrote, “I realize I need to be strong and be here for my 3 daughters.”
The fabricated obituaries bore similarities to previous death hoaxes that VERA Files Fact Check has looked into like one carrying a “video report,” which stops playing after a few seconds. For the Vanessa Bryant death hoax, a three-second clip from a 10-minute FOX News obituary for the late broadcaster Brenda Buttner in February 2017 was grabbed and made to look like the intro to the report. It showed host Neil Cavuto saying, “Finally, I have some very sad news to share with you today.”
As it stops, the clip invites viewers to first share the fake death report on Facebook to continue watching. There were also more ads on the page taking up space than actual content.
Additionally, netw0rk-channel.wereblogs.com appears to be connected to two of the other websites that published the Vanessa Bryant death hoax. Both broadcast.live-actual-events.com and live-br0adcast.uvcvpa.com redirect to netw0rk-channel.wereblogs.com after opening.
Netw0rk-channel.wereblogs.com’s Google Adsense code (ca-pub-1596817368955612), which Google gives to a publisher to place ads on one’s site, is the same as that of two websites that VERA Files Fact Check analyzed as having produced the death hoaxes on Eddie Garcia, Baron Geisler and Rowan Atkinson in 2018. This suggests there may only be one person or organization behind these posts. (See: VERA FILES FACT CHECK: The scheme behind scams: Why death hoaxes don’t die)
Among the top sharers of the fake posts, which could have reached over 1.2 million people, were Facebook groups Herbal Medicine (Halamang Gamot), Video mahalatsaka!!! And Puertorriqueños en Orlando y Kissimmee.
Netw0rk-channel.wereblogs.com was created on Nov. 14, 2019. The rest of the sites were created around the same day they published the death hoax: kimetsunoyulun.live-l3ak-news.com on Feb. 2; 0nlive.breakingthr0ugh.info and hottest.worldnewsfactory.today on Feb. 3; broadcast.live-actual-events.com was created on Feb. 4; and live-br0adcast.uvcvpa.com on Feb. 6.
(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)