June 18, 2012 at 11:55 AM ET
His music career has been in the grave for 20 years, but rapper Vanilla Ice, despite what you see on Facebook today, is still very much alive.
Like plenty of celebrities before him (Lady Gaga, Adam Ant, Chuck Norris ), Vanilla Ice has become the subject of a quickly spreading Facebook death hoax. The wall posts and messages announcing the fake tragedy claim that Ice (born Robert Van Winkle), died in a car wreck on Route 80 in northern New Jersey.
(Sadly, unlike Adam Ant, Vanilla Ice wasn't even granted the dignity of a fake death on a tropical island.)
Of course, if you get off Facebook and do some basic searching of your own, you'll find that Vanilla Ice is not dead, and even has a role in the new Adam Sandler film "That’s My Boy." But, as the security firm Sophos reports, the truth is the least important part of a celebrity death hoax; as long as it gets people to click, it served its purpose.
In this case, the fake tragedy redirects those who click for more information to a story by Global Associated News, an admittedly phony news source that lets you prank your friends by creating fully written fake news reports of your (or anyone's) death.
The Global Associated News stories don't drop any malware onto your computer, but by clicking the link to get there, you'll immediately clog up your news feed and your friends may do the same.
Thankfully, Facebook has taken steps to educate its hundreds of millions of faithful users about common scams and how to avoid them. The social network has started posting security tips at the top of each user's profile page. Read through these tips and they will help you make more informed decisions about what you click.