Ahh, social media - sometimes we love you a little to much. In fact it caused a near meltdown for UCLA head coach Jim Mora on Tuesday after someone created a fake twitter account for one of his players, Richard GoForth, on Monday night. He's a freshman on the Bruins team and isn't even a member of the twitterverse himself. But the real story is perhaps the fact that Mora was so peeved by the fake account that he wants the man or woman behind it to go to jail. I think Mora needs a lesson in social media! With Facebook, twitter, linkedin, MyLife (the one that groups them all together) and new social media popping up all over the place you have to learn to take it all in stride - especially if your in the public eye, people are out to make you mad.
"I think it's a frickin' joke that somebody would do that," Mora said via the report highlighted above. "I think you're the lowest form of life-form if you were to portray yourself as an 18-year-old young man who is out here trying to do his best. Trying to stir it up, attributing comments to him that aren't his, I think he ought to go to jail. That's how I feel. I think you're a scumbag."
What sparked the original controversy was the account tweeting out to USC wide receiver Robert Woods and taunting him. That started an all out twitter war between fans of the Bruins and Trojans as you might expect.
Mora even had to go as far as calling USC head coach Lane Kiffin to make sure they knew it wasn't a real account and that GoForth had nothing to do with it.
My reaction? First off, really people? How gullible are you?
Are there stupid athletes and people out there that will try to stir up controversy for followers out there? For sure, but do you really think a UCLA kid is going to be dumb enough to talk ridiculously stupid trash to Robert Woods two weeks before the Battle of LA? I'd like to think that kids going to school at a place like UCLA or USC would be at least a bit more smart in their ability to taunt an opponent in the first place.
This incident also brings about the interesting conundrum of social media and identity theft. Unfortunately in America impersonating someone on social media and causing harm isn't something that's currently punishable, but Mora brings up a good point - should it be punishable?
Look, I'm all for funny parody accounts and having a good time using social media, but taking the persona of an 18 year old young man who isn't even part of the social media scene to begin with is just plain wrong. Not to mention the fact that you aren't doing it to be funny about the individual you are trying to impersonate, you are doing it to cause his teammates, his university, and himself embarrassment and harm.
What if it was less clear if it was real or fake and he ended up punished or kicked out of school because of it? I mean, seriously, don't you have anything better to do with your life than creating a twitter account just to get your jollies off of stirring up trouble?
It's also amazing the power that Twitter has over fanbases that are gullible enough to get bent out of shape over an obviously fake twitter account. This incident highlights the ills of social media perhaps as much as any in recent college football history for sure.
This seems like a case of Libel. I am not an attorney but I would think if you falsely identify yourself as someone else anything you would say would be libel particularly if it caused harm to the individual you impersonated.
Defamation—also called calumny, vilification, traducement, slander (for transitory statements), and libel (for written, broadcast, or otherwise published words)—is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation a negative or inferior image. This can be also any disparaging statement made by one person about another, which is communicated or published, whether true or false, depending on legal state. In Common Law it is usually a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed