Is Donald Trump dead? Twitter hashtag #TrumpIsDead explained - and what it has to do with Elon Musk

The #TrumpIsDead hashtag managed to briefly reach the number one trending spot in America

As well as being a social media platform to keep up to date with friends, Twitter has become a common way for users to know what’s going on in the news thanks to things like publications tweeting out articles and trending hashtags.

So you would therefore be forgiven if, after checking out Twitter this morning, you might have been left believing that former US President Donald Trump has died, thanks to the succinct hashtag #TrumpIsDead that was trending online.

This is everything you need to know.

Is Donald Trump dead?

Contrary to the trending hashtag, Trump is not dead and is in fact very much still alive. There have been no legitimate news reports or any other official announcements regarding his alleged death.

Where did the hashtag come from?

It looks like the hashtag can be traced back to the American comedian Tim Heidecker, who tweeted: “Here’s what we know: 1. Trump is dead (died badly) 2. @elonmusk has suppressed this news (or has he?) 3. Donald Trump Jr is now just plain Donald Trump. Please like and share.”

At the time of publication, Heidecker’s tweet has amassed over 55,000 likes and 8,000 retweets.

He then followed up with another tweet which added: “Many are using #TrumpIsDead to spread the word. Many are sad by the news.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Free speech activist and journalist Nathan Bernard tweeted a screenshot of a fake CNN article that claimed that Trump had died at age 76. In the caption of the picture in the fake article, it said that Trump “died of autoerotic asphyxiation in his Florida home on November 1, 2022”.

Bernard has retweeted a number of screenshots claiming that the former President had died, including a fake BBC article and a tweet from Melania Trump which reads: “I just got home from Barron’s band practice (he’s in a grindcore band called S**t Christ) and Donald was dead facedown in the toilet which was overflowing with diarrhoea. What a mess. It’s all over his mouth. YUCK!”

He also retweeted a fake Snopes article that claimed the Melania tweet is real.

Why are people tweeting that Trump has died?

It appears that the hashtag is being spread as a way for Twitter users to test the limitations of what is and is not allowed under the social media platform’s new owner, Elon Musk, following comments from Musk describing himself as a “free speech absolutist”.

The hashtag has seen users deliberately spread misinformation, specifically about Trump’s death, with some claiming that he had died as a result of “an ivermectin and adderall OD”, “kicking a hornet’s nest” and “adult diaper rashes”.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a “Save America” rally at Alaska Airlines Center on July 09, 2022 in Anchorage, Alaska (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

One person tweeted: “I saw #TrumpIsDead and was excited for a second. I saw that it’s yet another psyopp [sic] to screw around with Melon Husk. Bummer.”

Another wrote: “#TrumpIsDead is the best retaliation to Musk saying disinformation is free speech. I’m totally into it.”

“What a relief that #TrumpIsDead. I mean, he might be alive, but since we’re apparently going a new direction on fact-checking in Chief Twit’s new world, I guess we’ll never know,” wrote another.

Another user tweeted: “It’s so crazy but Trump is dead #TrumpIsDead wow that’s wild and I can say this, it’s my free speech to spread my unique ideas that Trump died.”