Thursday, June 25, 2015

5 Tips To Make Sure You Don't Get Tricked By Twitter Rumors

Mike Hedden after discovering you fell for another fake account.
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
This time of year, everyone's an expert. The draft is tomorrow and free agency is soon to follow. Some folks get their giggles by pretending to be famous people on Twitter and reporting fake rumours on trades and free agent pickups.

1. All Hail the Mighty Blue Check Mark

Twitter has had a problem since forever wherein people can claim to be someone they are not. Well, this has been a problem on the internet for all time, come to think of it (hello, 1990s chat room users). In between posting idiotic YouTube comments and making rude remarks about their opponents' mothers on XBOX Live, some folks pretend to be Bob McKenzie, Elliotte Friedman or Pierre LeBrun.

A few years ago, Twitter introduced the blue check mark to indicate a verified account. The blue check by your profile means that you are who you say you are. The imeptus for the program was many fold but had its most notable influence from sports. The MLB's St. Louis Cardinals sued Twitter over an impersonator pretending to be the club's then-manager, Tony LaRussa.

Interestingly, you can't just fill out a form and get a check mark. Don't call Twitter; they'll call you. When you're deemed important enough, they'll reach out to verify your account.

When it comes to NHL news, pretty much anyone who knows anything is going to have one of those check marks. Now AHL... well, that's another story.

(One exception to the blue check rule is @StarsInsideEdge, who should really be verified, come to think of it.)

2. Don't Blindly Trust Retweets

Take a look at this retweet from yours truly in two different formats you might be familiar with.



Now, it just so happens that I am retweeting the actual Bob McKenzie's official account. However, if you just saw that flying by in your timeline, would you think twice about it being legitimate? If you trusted the person doing the retweeting, why wouldn't you? Well, what if the person isn't following Rule #1 above?

It, of course, gets more confusing. You'll need to click through to the tweet to make sure it's a verified account because it's not enough to just look at the name, which may not be unique, or the account handle, which can be faked. Can you tell the difference between I and l in a sans serif font? O and 0?

Can you tell the difference between these two accounts?


The one of the top is the actual Twitter handle, @FriedgeHNIC. The one on the bottom is @friedgeHNlC. That second one replaces a capital "I" with a lowercase "L". Tricky trickses.

3. Put on Your Listening Ears and Think Critically

Remember in elementary school, when the teacher told you to put on your listening ears? Maybe you worked on your critical reading skills too? All that will serve you well in the next week.

Writing a tweet or saying something about news that isn't quite news yet, aka a rumour, is a delicate dance. Often times the press has a bit of a negotiation on what info they can divulge even though they may know more. Legitimate sources (McKenzies and Friedmans of the world) will only say something is a done deal when they absolutely know that it is. Saying otherwise can hurt their credibility if something turns sour.

Just watch for any unreliable source that jumps on something too quickly or too definitively. Also, if the deal doesn't seem reasonable, that should be a red flag as well. Connor McDavid for Tomas Vincour and a conditional 6th rounder? Not likely.

4. Use Twitter's List Feature to Filter Out the Noise

Once you've identified those trusted sources, you should create a Twitter list with all those folks on it. Follow this list on draft day and free agency day to guarantee you only see correct news.

As a bonus for anyone who uses TweetDeck, you should add your list as a column. That column will act as a mini-timeline for only verified information.

5. Just read and follow 100 Degree Hockey...

Well, you know I have to do some self-promotion. We'll cover whatever's relevant to the Texas Stars here. For all your other NHL needs, follow the above tips for some good solid news.

6. (BONUS for Tweetdeck users) Restrict Your Columns to Verified Users Only

One of the ways a lot of folks fall victim to fake tweets is by looking at hashtags or keyword searches. If @TSNBobMcKenzje tweets about something using the #NHLDraft hashtag, you might not take a second look to realize McKenzie was just spelled with a "J".

So in TweetDeck, you can setup a column for a keyword or hashtag search. In this column, you can filter by only verified users by using the setting button in the top-right corner of the column. This guarantees Bob McKenzje or EIIotte Friedman won't cloud your timeline with false information.

1 comment:

  1. Why you gotta pick on Vincour like that? heh (Great info btw)
    - PBG

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting. Remember to keep it civil. Using a name will help us identify replies and build a Texas Stars community.