Fake identities: Manti Te'o scandal and 6 other Internet hoaxes

7. Sidney Ackerman: NFL catfishing

Jake Turcotte/CSMonitor
While only some Internet hoaxes are exposed, it seems that they are common on the Web. The perpetrators behind them often assume fake identities and trick people into believing the elaborate stories and characters they create.

Just a week after the Manti Te’o scandal was revealed, NFL.com reported that several Washington Redskins players were duped by a woman assuming a fake online identity.

A Jan. 24 article on NFL.com states that a woman under the pseudonym “Sidney Ackerman” had reached out to Redskins players on Twitter as @RedRidnH00d.

The woman, who said she was a big fan, corresponded with some Redskins players for months through Twitter’s direct messaging feature. She used photos belonging to online adult entertainer C.J. Miles on her social media accounts. In some instances, she sent separate photos of Miles to their cellphones, without indicating that they weren’t hers.

NFL security conducted an investigation of “Ackerman.” In mid-December, Redskins Director of Player Development Phillip Daniel put up a memo in the locker room warning players to avoid @RedRidnH00d on Twitter and every other social media platform.

The Twitter account disappeared shortly before NFL.com published the story. Ackerman’s Facebook page was deleted on the same day.

“Ackerman” had more than 17,000 followers on Twitter, and she wasn’t the only fake identity NFL security came across, which seemed to give her followers a false sense of legitimacy. Another Twitter account, @RideAndDieChick, was using photos of Miles on the account and as of Jan. 19 was being followed by 22 NFL players and six NBA players. The account was deleted by Jan. 22.

Neither account could be verified by Twitter, though investigators confirmed that they were not from the same user, NFL.com reported.  

7 of 7

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.