Looks like Manti Te’o isn’t the only football player who’s been femme-fooled online.
According to the NFL, at least four players on the Redskins were duped during the 2012 season by a hacker posing as a woman sending them messages online and hoping to meet them in person.
Phillip Daniels, the team’s director of player development, acted fast, posting a memo on the Redskins’ locker room wall in the middle of December with a stern warning: “Stay away from @RedRidnH00d. Avoid her on Twitter. Avoid her on Instagram. Do not converse with this person on any social media platform. She is not who she claims to be.”
Apparently, a woman known by the pseudonym Sidney Ackerman was using pictures of an Internet adult entertainer, C.J. Miles, to establish dialogues with pro athletes.
According to NFL sources, the conversations occurred mostly through Twitter direct messages. But in some instances, the fake “Ackerman” also sent separate photos of Miles to players’ cell phones.
On multiple occasions, several Skins players attempted to arrange meetings with her, but none succeeded. When those failed attempts led to suspicion, Daniels then received some independent info about the possibility that “Ackerman” was indeed a fake.
Although the account – and its corresponding Facebook profile – have since been deleted, Ackerman had collected more than 17,000 Twitter followers, which understandably created a sense of legitimacy in the minds of players.
Luckily, the Redskins’ interactions with @RedRidnH00d never broached Te’o territory.
Further proof that social media hoaxes are growing in frequency and scope:
Last Friday, NFL.com discovered another unverified Twitter account, @RideAndDieChick, with a photo of Miles as its Twitter avatar. As of Saturday afternoon, @RideAndDieChick was being followed by 22 verified NFL players and six verified NBA players. The account is no longer active.
But clearly, these stories stand to be taken seriously. And there’s buzz about incorporating social media training into players’ orientation regimens.
What are your thoughts on social hoaxes like what went down with Te’o’s fake girlfriend and the Redskins? Is the onus on the players to play it smarter and safer, or are there protective measures that social media platforms and/or the NFL should be taking?
(Image from Shutterstock)