US singer-songwriter Billie Eilish performs during the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards on January 26, 2020, in Los Angeles ( AFP / Robyn Beck)

Fake People article spawns online mockery of Billie Eilish

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Social media users mocked Billie Eilish after posts shared an apparent People magazine article that claimed that the American singer cried because she wanted to be poor so she could connect with her fans. But the celebrity-focused weekly confirmed the article is fake, as did Eilish's brother.

"'When I got rich, I started balling my eyes out, I wanted to be poor so I can relate to most of my fans,' Billie said candidly. 'I still want to be broke and poor, it looks really fun and cute,' Billie said laughing." 

This excerpt was shared on Facebook in late July 2021 below a photo of Eilish and the logo for People magazine, as well as what looks like a smartphone browser with the words "people.com" at the top. The image looks like a screenshot of an interview of the award-winning pop singer with the magazine.

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken on July 29, 2021

Facebook users who took the statement at face value mocked Eilish with commentssuch as: "Well then just give us the money? I swear I'll listen to your music" or "This woman is the ultimate poser in everything." Twitter users reacted in a similar manner, with suggestions including: "Venmo me your money."

However, the quote is pure invention and the article screenshot is a fabrication.

"People did not publish this article," Julie Farin, a spokeswoman for the publication, told AFP.

A search through People's past articles covering Eilish shows that the screenshot was doctored, using this real July 22, 2021 People article titled, "Billie Eilish Is 'Much More Confident' as She Drops Happier Than Ever: 'I Felt Like I Wasn't Very Talented.'"

The person who manipulated the image took a screenshot of the article on their smartphone, kept the browser tab, People logo and photo, while changing the text.

Screenshot taken on July 29, 2021 of the fake People article shared on social media
Screenshot taken on July 30, 2021 of the real People article

 

 

The quote was first shared on July 26, 2021, in a now-deleted tweet from an account named Billie Eilish Updates, a now-suspended account whose misspelt handle @BilliesUpdatess and past tweets and interactions suggest a troll fan account. 

Encouraged by Twitter users who recognized the article as fake, Eilish's brother Finneas O'Connell debunked the claims in a July 27, 2021 tweet.

"Fake obviously. Honestly I just wish they'd label this account satire like the onion or something. I have no problem with a joke as long as people know it's a joke," he wrote.

On July 30, 2021, Eilish released her second studio album, "Happier Than Ever," which she wrote with her brother, who also produced the record. She won five Grammy Awards in 2020, including for her first album "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" 

The 19 year old has mentioned having to deal with online trolls in the past.