A bevy of Twitter followers does not a reliable news source make. This lesson was learned the hard way yesterday, by NFL reporters, fans and sports talk radio hosts. See, yesterday Rob Lowe tweeted:
This caused the most respected NFL reporters in the businesses to tap every insider connection they had to try and confirm or deny the report. During my 30 or so minute drive home from work yesterday, almost every minute of the Chicago sports talk radio I was listening to was Peyton Manning related. Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter kept coming in, saying something like they’d spoken to Archie Manning and he said he figured Peyton would have told him if he was retiring or that Peyton’s agent denied the report.
I know that Rob Lowe has played iconic characters like Sodapop Curtis in The Outsiders, Sam Seaborn on the West Wing and the “literally” hilarious Chris Traeger on Parks and Recreation, but I’m not sure how any of that qualifies him as an NFL expert (though I wouldn’t be surprised if someone started writing the football version of Moneyball for Lowe to star in yesterday). Interns at the radio station I was listening to scrambled and found a photo of Rob Lowe and his two sons with Colts owner Jim Irsay at the Super Bowl and that Rob Lowe was the very first person Irsay followed on Twitter (even before the NFL commissioner and his own players). Mike and Mike were still talking about it on ESPN this morning on my drive in to work.
The moral of the story is, anyone can say anything on Twitter. There have been many a dead celebrity hoax over Twitter’s short history. All it takes is one misinformed tweeter with a decent following and things can spiral out of control. The fact that so much time and energy was spent chasing a report that probably took Rob Lowe less than 30 seconds to post is a joke.
I will be the first to admit that I get 99% of my news from Twitter. That being said, I get it from respected news sources and reporters, and not actors. It is a powerful tool, that can disseminate news around the world in a matter of seconds. BUT (and it’s a big but) some things need to be taken with a grain of salt. Know who you’re paying attention to, and don’t run with a story until it’s confirmed by a reliable source.