Everyone makes mistakes. Fortunately for ESPN, this one was not as costly as it could have been.
With NFL free agency well underway, everyone wants to know where the best prospects are going to be landing come the end of the signing period. Understandably, it’s an exciting time of year for the football world. Seasoned and amateur reporters alike want to make a name for themselves as the ‘reliable’ source for breaking the news on the next big trade.
With so much information online, especially on the social networks, you have to check, recheck, double-check and triple-check to make sure you are preaching the right message. And with little to no filters ensuring that all information on the social networks are correct, you have to be able to make a split second decision on whether or not you can trust your source.
So what happened at ESPN?
On Wednesday, an account posing as NFL analyst Jay Glazer posted this:
Image 1: The fake tweet was retweeted and liked hundreds of times.
Misinformation spreads easily, and depending on the timing of a post, the implications can vary greatly. If it had been the middle of the season and there had been no talk of Olivier Vernon moving teams, this tweet would have (most likely) never seen the light of day.
Hashtag hijacking and newsjacking are nothing new. We have seen examples of this tactic before. According to ESPN’s analyst Adam Schefter, “sometimes people get duped by fake accounts, and there are people here who got duped by a fake account. There’s no deal with Jacksonville right now. It’s still happening, unfolding as we speak.”
If people at the most trusted network for sports information can be duped, anyone can. While this tweet in particular doesn’t seem malicious, we have seen similar posts laced with malicious links, targeting organizations and consumers alike. This kind of newsjacking is staple for customer scamming. At the end of the day, the biggest drawback of fake posts for organizations is brand dilutions and loss of trust.
Jay Glazer, the analyst who was impersonated, had this to say after he heard about the mix up.
Image 2: Response from the real NFL analyst after the fake tweet surfaced.
Hopefully for ESPN’s sake this incident is written off as minor goof. But organizations should heed the warning: a fake tweet can sink a fleet.