Sports Twitter turned into the Wild West yesterday — and not the cool steampunk one with Kevin Kline — as the new verification reality crashed upon our shores with a tsunami of fake news. Some was relatively harmless, like a teenager clearly impersonating Adam Schefter. Some was pretty bleak, like the person who posed as the Pittsburgh Steelers organization to erroneously report quarterback Kenny Pickett had died. It all played out like most people expected it to play out, except those at Twitter capable of doing anything about it.
This feels like decidedly bad news and a worse user experience for all involved. Except, potentially, for Dan Le Batard, who can now survey the state of play and surmise he was a trailblazer in the business of being duped by fake accounts.
"I was just ahead of my time," LeBatard, who was previously no match for the dastardly Barry McCockiner, said. "I am leading the way on being a fool and everyone is going to have to reverse. Much like Elon Musk has gone from genius to fool, I've gone from fool to visionary."
Now, this podcast enjoys two things: randomly remembering Darren Bragg exists and having fun. But behind every joke is a parcel of truth. People are going to be wildin'. Hell, Ballsack Sports is now verified. Would you prefer some more heavy-handed symbolism or is that enough for you?
Essentially, we're all forced to do our own two-factor authentication. Every bit of slightly surprising news will come with clicking on the profile of the person tweeting it and making sure the follower count checks out. It was still possible to get fooled by the blue checkmark before this, but it sure as hell was less likely.
Currently, display names and avatars cannot be changed. It's possible half the TBL staff will forever be branded as parody accounts. And that's fine, because let's get weird.
It would be unrealistic, though, to think we and other outlets are aren't going to get fooled a few times. Sports bloggers aren't the brightest and we certainly aspire to perfection. Yesterday I posted a baseball fight that was four years old!
The only way to assure you don't ever get had is to simply memorize every single account name you're following and then memorize every single account you are not following. That way you can be sure there's no funny business going on.