Tim Tebow to the Dolphins! How I Trolled Twitter Into Believing an Absurd Rumor

Categories: Sports

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I love Twitter a lot -- like 83,000-tweets-and-counting a lot. So I didn't troll everyone yesterday with fake news about Tim Tebow joining the Dolphins because I was mad. I did it because it would be funny, and also because it's fascinating how information goes viral -- particularly in the murky world of sports reporting. Someone sees a tweet and retweets it immediately, no questions asked. Along the way it grows like as snowball rolling down a hill, until it's been spread so far and so wide that IT MUST BE TRUE. There is no "Are you sure?" button and there is no "Is this true?" button; there is only a "show what you just saw to the bleachers full of people that follow you" button called "retweet."

The following is a blow-by-blow look at how in less than 90 minutes I convinced the Twitterverse that a made-up ESPN reporter with the same name as the Marlins bench coach was reporting Tebow would soon be a Miami Dolphin, a hoax that didn't end until ESPN, Tebow, and the Dolphins themselves put a stop to it.

Step 1 - Pick a source, any source

Pick a name, literally any name, and add "ESPN" at the end. People see ESPN and assume it's true. You could see on ESPN's bottom line that you crapped your pants in the future at 7:57 p.m., and at 7:57 p.m. you would be like, "Am I about to crap my pants?" I picked Marlins bench coach Rob Leary. Rob Leary just looks like the name of an ESPN guy, like Bob Ley or something. This was a bonus because no matter what the Marlins bench coach's name was, I was going with it.

Step 2 - Make the tweet speculative, never confirmed.

You need to dangle the carrot while at the same time making the news something that can't readily be confirmed or denied. One of the evil little secrets about Twitter is that we all want to be the person that told the other person that told the other person about that thing, whether it be news as serious as someone famous dying, or that Amanda Bynes posted her boobs on Instagram again. Everyone is a source on Twitter, which is as much its draw as its downfall. One day you have 300 followers, the next day you're on CNN because you live-tweeted Osama Bin Laden's capture.

So, after straight-up warning everyone on Twitter that I was about to troll their balls off, I dove in with this simple, complete lie of a tweet.

Again, I just reported that the Miami Marlins bench coach, who amazingly, suddenly works for ESPN, has sources telling him Tim Tebow is at the Dolphins facility in Davie. The whole premise is ridiculous. Forget that you just need check my timeline to see this is a complete lie -- I said so moments earlier! -- because now people just assume someone works at ESPN named Rob Leary. This tweet was quickly retweeted by 50 people, getting the snowball rolling.

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21 comments
aosol528
aosol528

Oh maximum Ace pro moves there. Getting all the McNuggies for classic burns. You fandango that Kazoo with such finesse!

BringBackRyan
BringBackRyan

Will you ever replace Kyle full time?  PLEASE?

FatHand
FatHand

So the lesson is that you can't trust twitter or anything that Ryan Yousefi writes? Word.

wadejones1
wadejones1

Trolling for the sake of page hits. So basically you are Omar Kelly?

rizzmigizz
rizzmigizz topcommenter

Im a blogger with zero sources. I'm in the Physical Therapy field. I am not Dan Rather. That is all. 

rey0
rey0

Please dont ever joke like that again


danelyone
danelyone

I wouldn't jeopardize my credibility in this fashion, but that's just me. I guess people did trust what you had to say but will be doubting or checking the info twice next time. You sure showed them!

Em Azin
Em Azin

this should be a DAILY thing! lol :)

rizzmigizz
rizzmigizz topcommenter

@FatHand I promise you I will never be the source of breaking news unless im telling you your Dad is gay. 

rizzmigizz
rizzmigizz topcommenter

@wadejones1 This was a tiny joke on Twitter that got to ESPN in and hour....was never meant to be a story or blog...but thanks for the hit!

rizzmigizz
rizzmigizz topcommenter

@rey0 cant promise that...I am the Rainmaker of Twitter. 

JoseDuran
JoseDuran moderator communitymanager

@danelyone Did you read the post? Ryan TOLD them he was going to pull a prank before he did and they still bought it. It shows that people will believe anything that's on the internet. Ryan's credibility remains intact. In fact, it's everyone else who has egg on their face.

danelyone
danelyone

@JoseDuran @danelyone I did not read the initial post, and I don't know about you, but I don't have time to read each post anyone posts! Who does?

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