Posted on: November 9, 2022, 10:40h.
Last updated on: November 9, 2022, 11:46h.
A verified Twitter account pretending to represent Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James requested a trade back to the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier today, sparking a Twitter frenzy among sports fans. It was the result of a deeply questionable new policy rolled out today by Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk.
Instead of awarding blue check marks to public figures who verify their identity to the platform – the marks’ original and only purpose – Musk now offers them to anyone for $7.99 per month. That’s the price of his new Twitter Blue subscription plan, which requires no vetting of any kind. It’s part of a strategy Musk devised to stop his platform from losing what he claims is $4M per day.
But as soon as Twitter Blue rolled out on Wednesday, the trolls rolled in. An account named @KINGjamez announced: “I am officially requesting a trade. Thank you #LakersNation for all the support through the years. Onto bigger and better things! #Thekid fromAKRON #ImComingHome.”
The real LeBron James’ Twitter handle is @kingjames, with an “s.” However, it was the blue check mark that caused thousands of freaked-out sports fans to overlook the misspelling. The tweet remained online for 30 minutes and generated thousands of engagements, according to Snopes.
The Bird is NOT the Word
In other fake Twitter news, an account purporting to belong to Aroldis Chapman tweeted – in English and Spanish – that the relief pitcher had re-signed with the New York Yankees for three years. (Except that, last month, the team dropped him from the roster for skipping a mandatory workout.)
An account purporting to belong to two-time NHL MVP Connor McDavid tweeted that he was being traded from the Edmonton Oilers – where he is so revered, he was named captain in 2016 – to the New York Islanders.
And an account purporting to belong to ESPN sports analyst Adam Schefter tweeted that Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels was fired. (This claim was more believable, considering the Raiders’ 2-6 record in McDaniels’ first year in charge.)
All these tweets also came from fake accounts, which also featured blue check marks. As per Musk’s promise to permanently suspend any account impersonating another account, they were all banished from the platform. However, this only occurred after they were seen, liked, and shared tens of thousands of times. Their damage to the platform’s reputation had already been done.
Earlier Wednesday, Musk tweeted: “Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works & change what doesn’t.”
Maybe reportedly firing half of Twitter’s 7,500 full-time employees last Friday was not one of the things that worked.
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