[Update is the expected as Allen has deleted everything, including the embedded tweets which I should have gotten screenshots of, but I thought he'd put up more of a fight about his legitimacy, too. Sometimes that's the most fun part.]
[Update 2: It gets kind of weirder as supposedly (no way to verify really) "John Allen" was a project for a final about media perception? Or something? I dunno, but you can read "his" response.]
This time of year, baseball news is flying all over the place as teams try to sign and trade players. There are many well-established national and regional voices who are connected and dispense good information. But this being the internet, there are many who (for whatever reason) want to play insider and spurt out all sorts of misinformation.
There was Scott Swaim, the most notable of these, and then Insider Chris, neither of whom have really been heard from for a long time, but I think I’ve found another of their ilk. (UPDATE: The jig is up. “John Allen” deleted everything.
A guy with the handle “@JohnAllenKCNBC” sent a tweet on November 15 at 11:14 am. Nothing big, just a retweet with a comment. A few hours later, he cooked up this idea:
Now that’s a rumor.
He’s posted a few other things, as well. Some really make it seem like he’s plugged in.
But I couldn’t shake some feeling of something being…off.
The red flags to me:
- I’ve never heard of this guy. Not in passing, not cited in other reports.
- He’s got rumors that nobody else is coming up with, so either he’s just going off of partial information, he’s drawing quick conclusions, or he’s just making things up. Maybe that’s unfair, and maybe he does have these connections, but it seems odd that someone would just come up with these things out of nowhere that nobody else is hearing.
- He’s come almost literally out of nowhere.
- I have no idea what KCNBC is.
On the KCNBC note, @JohnAllenKCNBC lists “MO” as his location on his Twitter bio, so am I to interpret him as a KC area anchor? Kansas City’s NBC affiliate uses KSBH. It’s Channel 41. I can turn to it right now because I’m in the KC market. There’s no local KC radio station and anyway, radio station call letters are only four digits long.
But maybe, if I give him the benefit of the doubt, that might be a reference to something else entirely, even if his bio references “Sports KCNBC”. Still, it’s enough to keep looking.
So I took a page out of the Catfish playbook and wanted to check on the images.
Here’s the image of “John Allen” as of 8:45 p.m. CST 11/19/13:
I dragged that image into Google Image Search, which yielded these results:
Huh. Well, for one, that’s not going to be John Allen’s photo, even if John Allen is a real person. Let’s try that Facebook link…
It takes you to some search results which lead to the above page at this link. You can compare that image to the image on Terranomics agent profile page for Cameron Baird. He may be a few years older, but it’s the same guy. The person in @JohnAllenKCNBC’s Twitter avatar is Cameron Baird. Not John Allen.
And hey, if you’re looking for retail space in San Franciscos, Baird seems to be the guy.
It reminds me of old Insider Chris, who was trying to talk to national writers as if they were longtime friends. This was back in January 2012 when I was having some fun with the fake accounts and sold him on a rumor I’d simply made up to test how much he would press me on the info. He reported it without grilling me at all. Get rumor, tweet rumor.
Insider Chris was then using a photo of a mayor of a small town in Arkansas if I recall correctly.
It’s about presenting the image of a professional and selling that image.
To further sell that, I don’t know what this was about, but it felt fishy as well:
Seems John left his desk and a pesky coworker decided to jump on and tweet for him. They make a specific case to mention that he’s talking to “baseball peoplez”. It’s cagey because it presents this image of a guy whose phone is ringing off the hook to get these rumors unearthed. Of course, why not take the call there at his desk? There’s clearly a phone there. Perhaps it’s this supposed news office, so fine, let’s say he took his cell phone into the hallway to not interrupt someone else. (Allen warns that he’s “never leaving his desk again” in response)
But then who’s taking the picture of the silly coworker? Did she take a photo with a standard camera on a timer, upload it to his computer to then upload through Twitter? Or did she have someone else take it and upload that way? There’s some mechanism by which she would have had to take the photo with no hands, put the photo on his computer, and then put it on Twitter. Maybe she had the time to do that.
Of course, it’s odd because she took this photo at least back in February of 2012. I did the same Google Image Search on the photo of this silly coworker, and it pointed me to that article from Business Insider Australia. The same photo pops up in a slide on a July 26, 2012 article from Business Insider Australia as well.
So his profile photo is Cameron Baird, and the Tweetjacking was done by someone stuck in 2012.
But the guy has already collected over 2600 followers on Twitter, perhaps a testament to his information? That is one way to help determine the validity of a report. Fake accounts often replace one letter – like Danny Knobler (formerly) of CBS, who would have a fake account of “DannyKnobier” with the “i” capitalized to look like a lower-case “L” – to look legit, but they can’t match the thousands of followers a national reporter has. So if it looks like Danny Knobler, but he only has 43 followers, you probably have a phony.
I went to TwitterCounter, which tracks stats about Twitter followers, tweets, mentions, etc. Remember how John Allen’s first tweet was November 15? He started with tweet number one going out to 2650 followers, according to TwitterCounter:
It looks like his follows have been steadily growing (I can only check the last three months of data before I have to upgrade to premium on the site), but that seems to be very difficult to do when you’re not interacting with anyone.
My theory: Guy bought a lot of followers, decided to push the account as a real one, and is now trying to play insider. I don’t know why he would do this. I don’t know why any of these guys do it. Maybe it’s the allure of recognition, or the fawning that casual fans might do in the presence of these guys, but really, it’s throwing out unnecessary information that gets in the way of the real reporting.
So be careful out there during Hot Stove season. National writers are good to follow, as are beat writers. Those guys are embedded with the teams and always in the know. Most of the time, though, anyone who comes out of nowhere to have all this insider information is either playing a hunch or just making it up.