One of the pitfalls of Twitter is the fake insider account. Over the years, people have fallen victim to countless fake accounts putting forth false trades, faux rumors and phony reports. All these accounts have to do is to set up the fake Twitter, take the real person’s avatar and then create a name that is distinctly similar to the real person’s Twitter and viola! You have a fake insider account.
The latest insider account to be parodied and hoodwink several legitimate reporters was the @WojoYahooNBA Twitter. If you follow Yahoo’s NBA beat writer Adrian Wojnarowski, you know that his account handle is @WojYahooNBA. In addition to the now-suspended @WojoYahooNBA, there was @WojYahooIVBA and @WojYahooNABA which still exists, but hasn’t tweeted since June 28.
The way to tell that @WojYahooNBA is real is the verification checkmark next to his name. These other accounts did not have the blue verified check, but @WojoYahooNBA still managed to fool several legitimate writers and a bunch of fans.
So why did @WojoYahooNBA gain so much traction and who was behind it? You probably wouldn’t believe it, but that account was set up by two teens who are fans of the real Wojo.
Two Florida teenagers, a 17 year old from Orlando named Carl and an 18 year old from Miami identified as “@marty_voisein” took to Twitter early last week and began sending out fairly plausible transactions like the Cleveland Cavaliers free agent Luol Deng signing with the Los Angeles Clippers. Once fans realized they had been had, they reported the fake Wojo to Twitter and the account was quickly suspended.
So why go through the trouble of setting all of this up? Carl told SBNation that all he wanted to do is have some fun:
“We did it because we wanted to see how gullible people could be. I know everyone is quick to believe what they read on Twitter, and that’s why we did this. It’s just entertaining to see people go nuts over something that hasn’t really happened and completely ignore the fact that the account was fake. No disrespect to the sportswriters that actually fell for it. I know they’re just trying to do their jobs, and it just so happened that our fake account resembled that of the real Woj.”
So it was a social experiment? To see how many people they could fool at the expense of one of the more popular NBA beat writers?
“It was ridiculously fun. We couldn’t stop laughing when the tweets started getting so many RT’s. It got to the point where I couldn’t open my Twitter app. I guess it just goes to show you how gullible some people are.”
So it was to find out how gullible people are? Was there an entertainment value?
“I can definitely see why people would get annoyed, but this was honestly one of the funniest things I’ve done on Twitter.”
The lesson to learn is to check if the insider is really tweeting out the information and if the account has been verified.
It has led to some testy exchanges in particular with popular Twitter follow Lana Berry who called the fake account out. Still, the number of fake insider Twitter accounts will continue as long as the social media service allows for new sign-ups. People will continue to get hoodwinked and fooled as they want to believe. It’s led to writers being more careful about what put on Twitter and them being more cautious about the information they retweet.
Still, the fake accounts will always be on Twitter and their targets will always be the gullible fan who wants to believe what he or she reading is real. If you access a fake account, just look for a blue checkmark to see if it’s real. If you don’t see it, then it’s not real.
Twitter is no longer the Wild West of the internet as management has cracked down on some fakes, but they are still hanging around. Just be like Fox Mulder from “The X Files,” know that the truth is out there, just not from the fake account.