In May of 1897, American author and humorist Samuel Clemens (or Mark Twain) arrived in London as part of a lengthy world tour. There he was greeted by the news that his cousin, a Mr. James Ross Clemens, also in London, had been gravely ill.
The cousin recovered, but news spread across the ocean that Clemens had grown ill and was, in fact, on the verge of death. The news sparked tremendous worry and speculation that the beloved author would soon die.
It was Frank Marshall White with the New York Journal that finally set the record straight when he sent a cable to Twain inquiring after his health. The author replied, explaining the confusion between his identity and that of his cousin’s, reassuring White that he was perfectly healthy, and remarking that, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”
Twain would go on to live almost thirteen more years after the incident, which he found kind of funny. I mean it could happen to anyone, right?
And apparently it can. Because in the wee hours of the morning, on November 11, 2016, a Facebook glitch resulted in the reported deaths of a large number of its users, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The notice, appearing with a flower icon above the cover photo of an individual’s wall, read: “Remembering [your name]. We hope people who love [your name] will find comfort in the things others share to remember [your] life.”
The glitch was fixed quickly and the company issued a statement and apology about the sad notices. Mark Zuckerberg, to the best of my knowledge, is still alive and well, and, if you were unfortunate enough to come across your own death notice, then you can rest assured that the report of your death was an exaggeration.
I don’t know whether I was counted among the dead. I wasn’t awake at the time of the glitch, but no one offered any condolences to my family so I suspect I had a lucky escape this time. And that’s something to be thankful for heading into American Thanksgiving tomorrow.
Have a happy and safe holiday!