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Betty White is just fine -- though one hoaxer better lie low for a while [Updated]

March 2, 2010 | 11:56 pm

Betty white Betty White, your fans have got your back in a big way. Some of them thought they lost you Tuesday night, and now they are ticked off.

For an ugly few minutes Tuesday night (or early Wednesday morning, if you're not on the West Coast), a death hoax was doing the rounds on Twitter.

[Updated at 7:50 a.m. March 3: White was actually at the "Dreamgirls" premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre in L.A. on Tuesday night -- the Ministry's boss was sitting a table over from her during dinner at Kendall's restaurant, and tweeted about it! Jordin Sparks, incidentally, also attended the 8 p.m. show. Too bad the boss' note got lost among the hoax tweets, which kicked in a few hours later -- when, at least for me, earlier messages were temporarily unavailable.]

The hoax didn't start on Twitter, however; it was sparked by a post on the Oh No They Didn't discussion board that pretended to be a screen grab of a TMZ article.

According to the Cutting Room Floor blog (and backed up by what I saw in Google cache), a post titled "Renner, Just Happy to Be Here" had been approved and posted to ONTD, and then someone went in afterward and edited the presumably innocuous post to include the fraudulent image of White. ONTD quickly removed the post, and appears to have disabled the user's account in some way.

"The article was clearly fake, as it mentioned possibilities of foul play and drug abuse, and grandchildren that Betty White does not have," the Cutting Room Floor said. 

Once "Betty White" became a trending topic in certain regions, fans urged each other to tweet #BettyWhiteFacts and other messages about Betty's general awesomeness, rather than shouting "RIP" or "it's a hoax!" And then, of course, the porn bots got involved, because it was trending.

Ai yi yi.

The Ministry has a message in to Betty's agent just to dot the I's and cross the Ts, but we figure all the grown-ups are asleep at this hour. We'll update when we hear back Wednesday.

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Betty White arrives at the 16th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 23 in Los Angeles. Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images.

Related dispatches from the Ministry of Gossip:

Betty White leaving her 'SNL' fate in Lorne Michaels' hands

Why should Betty White host SNL? PREACH IT! takes the question to the people

Betty White rocks the room at the SAG Awards -- and she's just getting warmed up

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