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This Is How A Rumor That Drake Died Got Started

Spoiler: He's not actually dead.

Posted on December 3, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. ET

Let's start at the beginning. This is Drake. (Hi, Drake. 👋👋)

The hoax was spread on YouTube through comments, tweets using the #RIPDrake hashtag and photoshopped images of CNN's site, and editing of Drake's Wikipedia page. Someone also made a BuzzFeed post as a Community user claiming Drake had died, which spread around the web.

We don't know exactly how all these things happened, or exactly who did it it, but we can say with some certainty that...Drake is not dead.

Here's how it went down.

The hoax started with people filling the comments of the "Hotline Bling" video on YouTube saying Drake died.

Here's what we know vs. what we don't know:

We can't be sure that 4chan is actually where the hoax started. Screenshots of 4chan planning "Operation Drake" were posted to Tumblr and Twitter. However, one of BuzzFeed's editors did see people on 4chan talking about it that day (that thread, like all 4chan threads, expired and is gone).

But it's unclear if the hoax started somewhere else and 4chan just jumped on the bandwagon to claim it as its own.

In addition to tweets with #RIPDrake and the YouTube comments, someone made a post as a Community user on BuzzFeed claiming Drake was dead.

On BuzzFeed, anyone can create a post as a Community user. Our Community posts are moderated by a team of editors here — they choose the best posts to go on our Community page and sometimes even to our main homepage. These Community posts go into a moderation queue to await an editor's review. While that post sits in our moderation queue, the post is live on the site (although not linked to anywhere on our homepage) and has a big disclaimer that says the post has not been vetted by the editorial team.

In the case of the Drake hoax, that’s what happened — the post was live, and even though someone browsing BuzzFeed would never see it (even if they searched for it), you can see it if you had the direct link to it.

Once our Community team saw the post, we removed the false information and added in an editor’s note.

Once BuzzFeed's editors saw the post, we updated it to say that a false claim about Drake had been posted there and has been removed.

In an even weirder twist, that fake BuzzFeed Community post ended up on the front page of Yahoo, which means that a LOT of people ended up seeing the headline and post.

Our internal analytics show that about 350,000 people clicked from the Yahoo front page into that BuzzFeed post. That's a ton of people! And certainly many more saw the headline but didn't actually click.

We're not totally sure how the BuzzFeed post ended up on Yahoo. According to a spokesperson for Yahoo, “some stories on Yahoo’s homepage are selected by an algorithm, including this BuzzFeed Community post, which was flagged for being in violation of Yahoo’s editorial policy and removed.”

What makes this a little confusing is that the post hadn't gained much traffic through other sources before getting on Yahoo, and in general, BuzzFeed posts are rarely featured on Yahoo's homepage.

Whatever happened, the 4channer who created the BuzzFeed post ended up being wildly successful and got the hoax in front of a ton of people.

I also reached out to the email address of the person who created the fake "Joan Weaver" user account to make the BuzzFeed post. I haven't gotten a reply, but whoever you are out there, young troll, I just want to bring you a message: well played.

Last Monday, a hoax that Drake had died swept the internet. On this week's Internet Explorer episode, we explore how this happened and how trolls used BuzzFeed's Community accounts to spread the hoax.
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