Fidel Castro was pronounced dead on Twitter sometime around 3:59 p.m. on Thursday. It was an unconfirmed rumor, of course, but it was announced confidently so many folks assumed it was true — or at least worthy of retweet.
Then separate rumors started about Raul Castro calling a press conference at 9 a.m. or 11 a.m. today, allegedly to announce his brother’s death.
As South America's Twittersphere caught fire, some started questioning whether the users in their feed were even talking about the right Fidel Castro. After all, Al Jazeera reported on Jan. 4 that the Fidel Castro Odinga, the son of Kenya’s main opposition leader, died in Nairobi last weekend after a night of drinking with friends. Could it be that Twitter users were confusing the dead Kenyan man with his Cuban namesake?
Twitter heatmap shows mention of "Fidel Castro" from 10 a.m. Thursday- 8 a.m today (GMT).
An overexcited Wikipedian edited the entry for Cuba’s Fidel Castro to say “this article is about a person who has recently died.” Moments later, the Castro’s Wikipedia entry was reverted back and to his undead version.
By 8 p.m., media outlets around Latin America were reporting “strong rumors” about Castro’s death and the alleged forthcoming announcement by Cuban officials.
But on the island, where folks are more accustomed to rumors of Castro's death, the situation seemed less urgent. Journalists in Havana said they were aware of the rumors, but weren’t finding echo on the streets of Cuba. It’s true Castro hasn’t been seen in public in a year, but rumors of his death — as Mark Twain might have said — appeared to be greatly exaggerated.
As journalists turned to each other for answers, Cuba watchers tuned into state television.When Castro dies, that's where it will be announced unequivocally.