No, Colin Kaepernick did not sign with the New York Jets. But it’s alarming how many people thought he did.
Earlier today, the above tweet went out and was retweeted, at the time of writing, 12,000 times, and favorited 48,800 times. Several news sites picked it up, and a brigade of blue checkmarks also were happy to spread the news, many of whom were journalists for local newspapers, TV channels, and even the Athletic.
How excited they must have been to report the news that the former 49ers quarterback, shunned by NFL owners for daring to protest against racial inequality and police brutality in America, finally got a more than deserved second chance at playing in the league.
Apparently, they were so excited that they failed to notice that the account that broke the news wasn’t actually SportsCenter. It was missing the blue checkmark, Twitter’s seal of authenticity. It came at a time when NFL teams aren’t having any organized team activities, let alone signing free agents that haven’t seen the field in 3 seasons. Worst of all, it came from an account whose handle, @SuperToughScene, was displayed above the fake tweet, hiding in plain site.
How could several professional journalists have missed that? Did the emotional aspect of seeing justice finally served overpower everyone’s ability to see through some simple internet bullshit? And if they were duped by something so obvious, how easy would it be for a more complex fake news story to leak its way into our news?