“AUTOPSY: Chadwick Boseman was POISONED, homicide investigation begins,” reads the headline in a screenshot posted on Facebook in South Africa. It’s dated 29 August 2020 and shows the banner of Toronto Today.
The actor's death at the age of 43 was widely reported after his family announced it on Twitter and his publicist confirmed it on 29 August.
The headline and its article are both false.
Boseman died of colon cancer
In their announcement, Boseman’s family revealed that he had died of stage four colon cancer. His cancer was diagnosed in 2016, but kept private.
Even people who worked closely with Boseman were not told of his condition. Filmmaker Ryan Coogler, who directed Boseman in Black Panther, wrote in a tribute to the actor: “After his family released their statement, I realised that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him.”
There is no evidence that Boseman died of poisoning, and not cancer.
The screenshot is of a now deleted article (see archived version here) on the website Toronto Today. The site is said to be founded and run by one man, Mark Slapinski.
The article quotes Twitter users with no connection to Boseman who speculate that the actor was killed, some suggesting poisoning. And it includes a 30-second video posted on the YouTube channel “Mark S” – possibly Mark Slapinski himself – that questions the cause of Boseman's death.
Although the article refers to “an early autopsy”, it does not provide any information to confirm that this autopsy took place, or link to an official autopsy report.
There is no indication that an autopsy was performed on Boseman. No statement has appeared on any of the actor's official social media accounts, where his death was announced. Nor has his publicist made any such announcement.
The false article also states: “Police are now considering this a homicide, and will be holding a press conference in the next 48 hours.”
The Los Angeles Police Department made no such announcement in the 48 hours after the article was published, nor has it indicated that it is investigating Boseman’s death. The actor passed away in his Los Angeles home.
Neither the article nor the Facebook post are supported by any evidence that Boseman did not die of cancer. – Keegan Leech
Republish our content for free
For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false
A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”, “altered”, “partly false” or “missing context”. This could have serious consequences. What do you do?
Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.Publishers guide
Africa Check teams up with Facebook
Africa Check is a partner in Meta's third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.
The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.
You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.