All posts tagged: #DiedSuddenly conspiracy theory

A Simple Theory for Why the Internet Is So Conspiratorial

A Simple Theory for Why the Internet Is So Conspiratorial

On Friday afternoon, news broke that the beloved actor Carl Weathers had died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 76. No cause of death was announced. Within hours, anti-vaxxers offered an unsolicited explanation for his passing: They pointed to a tweet, posted by Weathers in 2022, in which the actor noted that he was “vaxxed and boosted.” Weathers became the latest celebrity to have their death co-opted by the #DiedSuddenly conspiracy theory, in which vaccine skeptics insinuate that people are dropping dead after receiving a COVID vaccine. Four days later, the same cycle repeated itself following the death of the country-music artist Toby Keith. For these anti-vaxxers, celebrity deaths are never random or senseless. Each one is a piece of evidence that is instantly compiled to explain and sustain a particular, dangerous worldview. Conspiracy theorists and propagandists have always tried to spin current events. But on the internet, it has become unnervingly common to encounter brazen conspiratorial ideas. As my colleague Kaitlyn Tiffany wrote last year, #DiedSuddenly has thrived on social media, especially …