Why do some of us find fake Twitter accounts and Twitter trolls so entertaining? To steal the line from the famous and beloved movie: Some men just want to watch the world burn.
Twitter is the perfect tool for a world that wants and, in some cases, demands to learn breaking news almost immediately after it happens. Such a phenomenon occurs in sports on days such as league trading deadlines when fans find themselves constantly refreshing web browsers so that they do not miss out on the latest transactions.
As much as we want to be in the know, there is also something oddly satisfying about seeing that even supposed experts and respected journalists can be deceived by a fake Twitter account that tweets out a false report. That occurred earlier this month when one user, a National Football League fan under the handle "@UncleChaps," tricked ESPN personalities into believing that defensive end Olivier Vernon had put pen to paper on a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Users posing as reporters are not the only Twitter accounts that provide laughs to sports fans. Pretend news organizations offer the type of hot takes passionate sports viewers seek out on Twitter every week. An account that is dedicated to following World Wrestling Entertainment programming has a massive following all because it makes fun of the programming that the WWE presents on a weekly basis.
You may, if you use Twitter to receive the bulk of your legitimate news, not always laugh if you are duped by one of these accounts. Maybe some of the jokes and tweets posted by these accounts wouldn't put a smile on your face. To you, dear person, we have one question to ask about your Twitter habits: Why so serious?
March Madness and the NCAA tournament dominate sports-talk discussions throughout the majority of the month as we wait for Opening Day and the official start of the Major League Baseball campaign. That has been reflected on the Onion Sports account. In the days leading up to the start of this year's tournament, Onion Sports asked a question that non-college basketball fans probably wonder each and every March.
Onion Sports has over 237,000 followers.
Bo Pelini is a real college football coach. Pelini was really the head coach at the University of Nebraska from 2008 up through the fall of 2014. Those who are interested in keeping up with the thoughts and life of Pelini, who currently serves as the head coach at Youngstown State, can follow his official and verified Twitter account @BoPelini. Unfortunately, Pelini has not tweeted out anything since October 2015.
You may be better off following @FauxPelini, arguably the top fake sports Twitter account of them all.
Just how good is Faux Pelini? The account that currently has over 226,000 followers was named Internet Sportsman of the Year by USA Today's For the Win back in 2014. While the real Pelini is known as a man who has, in the past, been prone to outbursts on sidelines during games, Faux has been associated with an avatar that shows the coach holding what is supposedly his beloved cat.
That real Bo has traded in Nebraska red for Youngstown State red has not kept Faux from continuing to tweet. Faux was following the second round of the 2016 NCAA tournament when Northern Iowa suffered a historic meltdown against Texas A&M. The would-be coach had some constructive criticism for UNI following that game:
Buster Olney is an admired MLB reporter who can be seen on ESPN programming throughout the baseball season. Olney has been known to break news via his official and verified Twitter account, @Buster_ESPN, and he is a regular on shows such as Mike & Mike and Baseball Tonight.
@TRIPPINGOLNEY takes a look at what Olney's Twitter feed may look like if the reporter were to decide to regularly consume certain hallucinogenic substances.
Not Buster Olney, as the account is known, tweets in all caps to show his excitement about topics. This fake Twitter account has been known to drop the occasional curse word, something that you will want to remember if you are looking at his page while at the office.
@TRIPPINGOLNEY has roughly 24,700 followers.
While @TRIPPINGOLNEY largely sticks to baseball, he has also touched upon other subjects in the past. Like Faux Pelini, this Twitter T.O. was also amazed by what he saw in the final minute of the UNI-Texas A&M encounter:
Have you been left scratching your head because of feuds and stories the WWE presented in the months and weeks leading up to WrestleMania 32? Are you not sure why the WWE continues to force Roman Reigns down the throats of fans even though Reigns is routinely booed during editions of Raw? Wish that you could see into the minds of those working for WWE Creative?
We have just the Twitter account for you—sort of.
@WWECreative_ish, an account that has over 194,000 followers, is a parody of the creative team responsible for producing the sagas that play out in the WWE Universe. Matt Harrak of wrestling podcast Hitting the Canvas informed the world in June 2013 that @WWECreative_ish is run by a former member of WWE Creative (h/t InsidePulse.com), so maybe the Tweets delivered by "ish" are not that far off from what is thought by the actual creative team.
@WWECreative_ish is a must-follow for WWE fans who are on social media each Monday night. These tweets were posted during the March 21 Raw:
What may be the best part about the popular @NotBillWalton Twitter account is that the tweets it offers could seemingly be posted by the real Bill Walton. Walton, as Alysha Tsuji of For the Win pointed out this past February, has been known to get sidetracked and distracted while calling basketball games for ESPN. On that particular occasion, Walton became more interested in talking about the National History Museum and Dinosaur National Park than breaking down a play.
It may appear as if @NotBillWalton, the Twitter personality followed by over 180,000 accounts, is meant to mock the former player and current analyst. That, as one of the two individuals responsible for the account explained to Will Montgomery of HudsonValley.com back in July 2013, is not the case.
We are both huge sports fans, especially basketball, and we both pride ourselves in our ability to communicate effectively via written word. Bill Walton’s playing career predated both of us, thus our main exposure to him was his broadcast work on the NBA on NBC.
Due to his verbose and contrarian style, we saw this as a great opportunity to translate this over to written word and use the Twitter platform as a springboard. My partner thought we could capture the general fun of his hyperbole and I thought we were just crazy enough to push it even further, into another stratosphere; colorful, larger than life, sarcastic jokes that may fly over some people’s heads, and deadpan humor from a guy that did it his way. Based on our own creative preferences, we both very much identified with that.
The challenge early on with trying to effectively parody Bill Walton was trying to parody someone who is already over the top. The solution was simple; become even more over the top than him.
We now present this pearl of wisdom from @NotBillWalton without any additional comment:
Creating a Twitter parody of a current reporter or current sports star isn't enough for some creative minds. Charles Gardner Radbourn, known as Old Hoss Radbourn, was a pitcher who began his career all the way back in 1880 (h/t Baseball-Reference.com). Radbourn accumulated 309 victories during a career that lasted 11 seasons.
He was 42 years old when he died.
@OldHossRadbourn has over 73,000 followers, which isn't bad considering that the actual man responsible for the name of the account has been dead for over a century. Do not assume that his fake Twitter persona sticks only to baseball. Old Hoss has also dabbled in politics, and he has not been afraid to tackle other serious subjects.
Old Hoss became such a sensation that Vice Sports had "Hoss" interview author Molly Knight in July 2015 about a baseball book that Knight had written. Here is the start of that interview for those needing a taste before they click the link.
Old Hoss Radbourn: M. Knight, welcome. It's a pleasure to talk with you about this wonderful book.
Molly Knight: Thank you for coming to me so that I didn't have to visit you in hell.
OHR: Indeed. It is pleasant to be away.
Knowledgeable fans who visit different sports websites on a daily basis should, at the very least, recognize the name of DJ Gallo. Gallo has been featured by the Guardian, CBS Sports and ESPN, and it was Gallo who launched satire sports website Sports Pickle in 2001. Ryan Glasspiegel of the Big League spoke with Gallo in 2013 about the early days of Gallo's site:
(Gallo) had just finished college at Towson University at that point, and he was sitting behind the computer at his boring PR job when he realized that a sports website solely devoted to humor and satire didn’t really exist.
In early 2003, Sports Illustrated wrote up a short plug for Sports Pickle, which had about 500 daily visitors and generated $25 per month in ad revenue at the time. Soon thereafter, Gallo had quit his full-time job and was contributing to ESPN, where he kept writing and producing videos — in addition to his own site — until recently.
@SportsPickle, followed by over 148,000 Twitter accounts, is used for more than just providing links for stories. This satirical page was following the action when the Tampa Bay Rays played an exhibition game against the Cuban national team.
Maybe @SportsPickle has a future in national security:
Have whatever opinion you want about the Twitter account known as @UncleChaps. Just don't say that he's a fake.
Chaps could be considered to be a "hit-and-run" Twitter troll. As of the posting of this piece, Chaps' Twitter bio is seemingly that belonging to just some random sports writer. The bio claims that Chaps has written for NFL.com, CNN and Blogspot, and nothing about the account would immediately let you know that the account has been used to impersonate other reporters.
Just wait until you see Chaps get to work.
As Des Bieler of the Washington Post explained, Chaps will change his bio and Twitter avatar to match a well-known reporter such as Jay Glazer. Chaps-Glazer will then float out a fake story, such as defensive end Olivier Vernon signing a contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, to see if anybody will take the bait.
Chaps not only tricked some of his 12,600 followers into believing this completely made-up report. He also had ESPN run with the Vernon story during a nationally televised program.
Everyone makes mistakes. It happens. What made this instance so funny is that Chaps does not change his account name before he tweets as Glazer or as any other reporter. Thus, it is clear to anybody who looks at the tweet for more than a few seconds that the Glazer reporting the Vernon stories came from the @UncleChaps account.