As tends to happen when famous people are very ill (and even when they're not), Twitter killed Joe Frazier last night. It just takes one person jumping the gun, or one person misinterpreting another's tribute. A retweet here, a failure to wait for a legitimate source there, and the deed is done. The problem with Twitter is that we assume other people know things we don't; the reality is, nobody knows anything.

But it's Twitter, and the knock on it has always come from people who don't understand that you need to run it through your own bullshit detector. The very first non-Twitter report of Frazier's death came from Australian newspaper The West Australian, which shows why it's earned the nickname "Worst Australian." The byline belongs to Neil Devey and AAP, and it's just a lede referring to "reports from America" that Frazier has died atop a wire service writeup of his illness. Basically, Neil Devey saw on Twitter that Frazier was dead, wrote a sentence citing "reports," and published. He probably assumed, with Frazier's health as poor as it is, that he had a pretty good chance of being right and being first. This fed Twitter anew; now it had something to link to.

Of course Frazier is still alive, and after a statement refuting the death rumors was released, The West Australian made their story disappear. Oh well, memento mori. Erroneous death reports are never actually wrong; they're just premature.