If you’re not one of the millions of people using social media like Twitter and Facebook, this bizarre story may leave you wondering why anyone uses it. On Friday, it was reported by Burt Lauten that any comments made recently on a Facebook page attributed to Steelers rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier are not from him, but from an imposter who has set up an account to imitate Shazier.
Lauten, whose Twitter handle is @steelersprburt, said, “@RyanShazier doesn’t have his own Facebook page. Posts aren’t legit & pics/posts being tweaked/added on/copied from his IG and Twitter Accts.”
As of midnight, July 12, 2014, the “fake” Shazier Facebook page was unaccessible.
So, how uncommon is it for athletes to have someone imitate them on social media? According to social media expert Jim Harris, not that difficult.
“Facebook has a policy that allows individuals to sign up using an email address and create a profile in just a few minutes,” said Harris. “Unfortunately, they have no current system in place to prevent imitators from creating an account with public information on athletes, stars or even common people. There has been a rise in ‘fake’ accounts. Some are created to attempt to hijack real peoples’ accounts and ‘hack’ them. Others are created by people who simply want to gain recognition by pretending to be a ‘famous’ person. In this case, Facebook took the reporting of the said account seriously as a ‘fake’ and acted on it.”
While some of the posts and pictures were ones that Shazier actually did post on Twitter and Instagram, they were not authorized or initiated by Shazier on Facebook.
Comments made by the imposter were negative towards rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns in particular. Neither Manziel or Shazier have made official statements that would be deemed beyond reasonable chatter although some media members have suggested the info could fuel a bit more rivalry between the Browns and the Steelers. That might actually make the rivalry more interesting, but isn’t likely to generate much of a reaction outside of fans who ‘follow’ either player on social media.
Note: Ryan Shazier’s official Twitter user name is @RyanShazier.
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