A very famous poet once said, “you are fake news!” I forget which poet exactly. Maybe it was Maya Angelou. Maybe it was Emily Dickinson. Maybe it was Dr. Seuss, who really knows?
One thing I do know is that fake news runs rampant on Twitter. Twitter is the closest thing the internet has to the lawless wild, wild, west. Anything goes, and almost everything is believable. Take for example one little bit of false information that hit the interwebs yesterday about the New Jersey Devils coaching situation:
Scrolling through your newsfeed at 100 miles per hour, you could easily fall victim. The typeface and font look close enough, and the graphic matches the type of graphics the actual Devils’ account is used to tweeting out. Once you take a closer look, you realize a well-placed emoji stands in for the important blue checkmark. That’s when you realize Gerard Gallant isn’t actually trading in the Vegas strip for the New Jersey turnpike.
Maybe we were fooled for a second or two, but most of us are too smart to let this internet true actually make us believe the Devils had a new bench boss. Unfortunately, some people aren’t as smart. Soon legitimate news sources, including apparently the Sirius XM NHL radio network and a news outlet in Vegas, bought into the prank. They decided the news seemed real enough. I don’t know who made that judgment call, but I’m willing to bet money it’s someone who has to ask for help opening up a PDF file.
We’re no stranger to fake hockey news. How many years did we deal with “my cousin’s brother’s aunt nieces’ accountant’s ice cream man’s aroma therapist’s college roommate’s third ex-wife’s garbage man works for the Devils and he told me Ilya Kovalchuk is coming back?” Sidebar, if there’s one good thing about Kovalchuk being back in the NHL, it’s that those stupid rumors have stopped.
On a more serious note, we saw this past weekend what bad reporting can do. In Kobe Bryant’s tragic helicopter accident, how many times did the “official” story change? Unfortunately, some news sources out there are hoping to report the news first, not report the news right. Hence, they easily fall victim to internet trolls like “New Jersey Devils with a J emoji”.
There are two sides to every story. For example, internet rumors and speculations are an exciting part of the game. Gone are the days where we had to wait for official announcements from teams for news. Remember Taylor Hall’s famous “the trade is one for one” tweet came before the Devils themselves confirmed the trade. Internet speculation and leaks and internet trolling, unfortunately, go hand-in-hand.
So what can you do? The first and easiest way is to look for the almighty blue checkmark of legitimacy. If they have an actual blue checkmark, most likely they’re credible. Granted there are a few more than credible sources who haven’t been blessed with Twitter’s medal of superiority yet, such as Incarcerated Bob, but this is a good rule of thumb.
In addition, take everything with a healthy bit of speculation. No, the Devils aren’t trading Mirco Mueller for Connor McDavid (obviously because Mueller is worth SO much more). If I learned one thing from my dream where Pamela Anderson showered me with money after I won the lottery, if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is too good to be true.