At 12:34 p.m. on June 20th, a BSN Rockies contributor types the following into the writer’s Slack room: “Sonny Gray scratched from start.”
This is the type of statement that sends baseball fans, writers, and blogs into a frenzy. Thankfully, the BSN contributor retracted his statement within 90 seconds, stating, “nvm fake account.” This saved us from falling for the oldest trick in the book of baseball Twitter: the parody accounts of respected writers and reporters come trade deadline.
Countdown to Major League Baseball trade deadline: Fifteen days.
As evidenced by a credentialed journalist temporarily falling prey to these tactics, it’s important that every rumor and report is subject to evaluation of the given source’s credibility before following up. With fake accounts in full force just under six weeks prior to the trade deadline, this contingent, whose goal is to misinform for the purpose of follows and retweets, needs to be something of which baseball Twitter needs to be wary.
Sadly, the test of a reliable source itself becomes less and less reliable by the day. The semi-anonymity of the public forum continually clouds the ability to decipher between news and #fakenews, between a hug watch and hogwash.
Take the example of Thursday morning’s trade of Jose Quintana across Chicago. Not a single member of the Chicago media caught wind of the negotiations until the teams announced it on Twitter. Granted, the deal came together pretty quickly. Still, nothing is more embarrassing than a giant whiff by the entire sportswriting profession in the nation’s third-largest market.
And then, things got even worse for traditional forms of media. It turns out someone had reported on the trade. Instead of explaining what went down the night before on Reddit, he’s a screenshot:
Welcome to 2017, fellow journalists. Not only do you have to uncover information before other members of media, you have to compete with the likes of KatyPerrysBootyHole and WetButt23. So where does this leave the fan who wants the most accurate and up-to-date information on all the deadline drama?
On Twitter, there are easy ways to vet these accounts. Make sure the account wasn’t just created in the last few months. Check for any simple spelling errors in the reporter’s name (Ken Rosemthal has been a popular one), and if they have a reasonable amount of followers for their given forum.
Beyond that, good luck. Misinformation is out there, and intentionally so. If journalists and fans alike are not careful, everyone will be left picking egg off their faces, post-deadline.