Last night, a blogger from the now defunct The Fightins set off an internet frenzy by impersonating Sports Illustrated writer Jon Heyman on Twitter. The fake Tweet successfull fooled several baseball writers on Twitter and appeared on SB Nation shortly thereafter.
But it didn't stop there. Michael Kay, on the air in New York, reported the rumor as fact, forcing the real Heyman to out the fake (who changed the "I" in Sports Illustrated to a lowercase "L").
The former blogger who first started the rumor Tweeted, "I've literally never been so proud of anything I've ever done in my entire life."
His tune quickly changed, later saying, "Holy shit, I'm going to be in so much trouble now, aren't I?" Probably not, you just look like a jackass.
Editors note: It was not the first time someone has made a lame attempt to show the pitfalls of Twitter. In August, Mike Wise of the Washington Post Tweeted a complete lie, saying Ben Rothlisberger had been suspended for five games. His point was to show the powers of Twitter, as the report was quickly picked up others. The whole thing backfired, Wise was suspended, and more importantly, his credibility was severely hurt.
We get it. We get that it's easy to say something on the internet and have it recited as truth- congrats, these social experiments are a success. But did you really expect anything different?
Wise Tweeted a complete lie from his actual account, of course it was going to be taken as fact. It would have been no different if he said it on the radio or wrote it for the Post. Last night, the idiot who started the rumor not only made something up, but he did it impersonating someone else- doubly worse. He used the small following he built up writing for The Fightins to spread the completely made up story. Since the two names (SI_JonHeyman and Sl_JonHeyman) looked exactly no different with Twitter's font, you can't really blame folks for being easily fooled. However, those who started the rumor immediately called out the media for reciting it as gospel and not double-checking their sources. Except, in this case, the source very much looked like the real thing (one who has broken many baseball stories via Twitter).
The end result is a slightly sullied reputation for Twitter, blogs, and those "involved," despite the fact that those new mediums do serve a real purpose in reporting, as many respected journalists and reporters break news on Twitter long before they write a story.
For those who thought they were clever to "expose" the dangers of the internet? Well played, you succeeded. However, Wise's repuation as a journalist is severely damaged.
Last night's pranksters? Unfortunately they're not important enough to have a reputation to injure.
And that might be the worst part in all of this.