Meta has reportedly confirmed that Lil Tay’s Instagram was hacked after her account was used to falsely announce the rapper’s death.
The tech giant told TMZ on Saturday that it helped the 14-year-old social media star recover her account from a hacker. Lil Tay, who said her real name is Tay Tian, previously told TMZ that her Instagram page was “compromised by a third party” when it was used to “spread jarring misinformation” about her “sudden and tragic passing.” Meta did not immediately respond Sunday to The Times’ request for comment.
The former viral sensation’s 21-year-old brother, reportedly named Jason Tian, was also wrongly pronounced dead in the hoax. The Times and other outlets reported Lil Tay’s death Wednesday based on a statement shared on her official Instagram account.
“I want to make it clear that my brother and I are safe and alive, but I’m completely heartbroken, and struggling to even find the right words to say,” Lil Tay told TMZ in a statement. “It’s been a very traumatizing 24 hours.”
The phony death announcement was written from the perspective of an unnamed family member grieving the “unbearable loss” of Lil Tay and her brother. The Instagram post, which has since been deleted, claimed that the “entirely unexpected” deaths of the siblings were “under investigation.”
Shortly after news outlets began reporting Lil Tay’s death, the internet personality’s father, Christopher Hope, and former manager, Harry Tsang, could not confirm to Insider that the teenager had died.
“This situation calls for cautious consideration and respect for the sensitivities involved,” Tsang told Insider. “My commitment remains focused on delivering updates that are both reliable and appropriately timed.”
Tsang was also among multiple people who previously doubted whether Lil Tay’s Instagram account had actually been hijacked.
When the Instagram post and subsequent reports were revealed to be untrue, Lil Tay told TMZ that she had been bombarded with phone calls from loved ones “all while trying to sort out this mess.”
TMZ also reportedly received a “full press release” from someone claiming to represent Lil Tay’s family and saying that she and her brother had died at their mother’s home in Vancouver. When the publication contacted Lil Tay’s family members and Vancouver authorities, however, no one could corroborate the deaths.
Lil Tay became famous in 2018 for her foulmouthed videos, as well as Instagram photos and posts in which she flaunted designer clothes and luxury cars. Prior to the death hoax, she had not been active on social media since June 2018.
Times staff writers Nardine Saad and Alexandra Del Rosario contributed to this report.