For all of you Twitter lovers out there, continue to embrace it because it's changing how media works.
For all of you Twitter haters out there, get used to it because it isn't going away.
Despite its popularity, there is a legitimate problem with Twitter that haters can gripe about: It is so easy to make a fake account and pretend to be someone you’re not.
“We’re [Eli and Peyton] not on Twitter. We won’t be using Twitter,” Eli Manning said to Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News. “So if you get a message saying it’s Eli or Peyton, it’s not us.”
Eli and his brother's fake accounts aren’t the only ones around. Tina Fey, Megan Fox (most notably from Transformers), Stephen Colbert, Christopher Walken, and yes, even former President George W. Bush are all being impersonated over Twitter.
While many of the posts for fake athletes are funny, there is no way to tell whether these thoughts are actually from the athlete or celebrity. This same dilemma arose at the end of April.
Someone set up a fake Twitter account in Tony La Russa’s name. After losing two out of three to their division rivals, the Cubs, the Twitter account bearing La Russa’s name posted the following tweet according to Jim Salter of the AP:
“Lost 2 out of 3, but we made it out of Chicago without one drunk-driving incident or dead pitcher.”
The Cardinals Darryl Kile died in his room of a heart complication in 2002. Josh Hancock died in an auto accident following a night of drinking. And La Russa himself pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in March.
The distasteful tweet splashed all over headlines and led to La Russa suing Twitter. It is very possible for any of the celebrities being impersonated to sue a social networking device.
In another Twitter related lawsuit, Dawn Simorangkir (the Boudoir Queen) sued Courtney Love over Love’s negative tweets about Simorangkir’s clothing line.
An athlete got in trouble for his tweets as well. Brian Wilson, the closer for the San Francisco Giants, confirmed that his account is real. Wilson tweeted about an encounter with a group of over-aggressive males after a late night in Arizona. The next day Wilson blew a save against the Diamondbacks.
The big topic after the game was whether Wilson’s late-night escapades caused him to be ineffective the next day. After his tweeting caused him this grief, he deleted all of his tweets according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The closer replaced those tweets with one saying: “Warning- do not take my twitters seriously, they are made up stories that reflect my humor.”
Twitter is a social phenomenon. Many athletes and celebrities are using it to communicate with fans directly. Shaq, Steve Nash, and Lil’ Wayne each have thousands of followers. Many known writers such as Peter King and Jon Heyman of SI post their opinions on Twitter.
It is a way for regular people to become personally connected with celebrities.
Not only are there fake accounts, but it's also hard for an athlete to tell a story or convey meaning in 140 characters.
So, be careful Antonio Pierce, who only wants to “talk like he tweets” according Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star Ledger. 140 characters are not enough to give an account of a game or an outlook for a season without negating something important.
Twitter opens many doors. But, journalists are there to decipher what an athlete says and to give well-rounded accounts of the story. Without them, some of the story is left out or even flat-out wrong.
Twitter is a great new tool. But, like many of the social networking tools over the past four years, Twitter must be taken with a grain of salt until its issues can be fixed.
Just ask the 15,000-plus followers of Eli Manning on Twitter, I bet they feel cheated now knowing their Super Bowl MVP isn’t Eli at all.
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