Earlier this afternoon, the Mississippi State fan website ForWhomTheCowbellTolls.com tweeted the following information:
“BREAKING NEWS: 10 players will not be suiting up in memphis tonight, including Fletcher Cox”
Cox is a key member of the Bulldogs’ defensive line, FYI. In typical Twitter fashion, everyone who read the tweet from the website then re-tweeted it. Several national writers passed the tweet along to their readers.
I’d like to think that some believed the tweet came from MSU’s athletic department because ForWhomTheCowbellTolls.com was smart enough to grab @mstateathletics as their Twitter handle. So their tweet looked official.
But then again — knowing how Twitter works and how we in the media rush to be first on anything — the name of the tweeter probably had nothing to do with the avalanche that followed.
Since the “news” broke, there has been no confirmation from traditional media sources or from Mississippi State University.
Other tweeters have claimed to know that Cox is still in Starkville this afternoon and not with his teammates in Memphis. Backup quarterback Dylan Favre has also been named as one of the 10 players not dressing out. But again… there’s been no confirmation of those tweets either.
Brad Locke of The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal has tweeted the following:
“Dear tweeps: If I had confirmation about anything y’all are asking about, believe me, I wouldn’t wait for anyone to ask to divulge info.”
Fellow Bulldog beatwriter Brandon Marcello of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger held a chat with his readers this afternoon and said pretty much the same thing:
“If anyone (is suspended), it will not be announced until kickoff. Mississippi State has not yet announced any suspensions. … The tweet circulating among the national writers is from a fan blog.”
Asked by a fan to check on the rumors, Marcello wrote:
“Partner, I’ve been checking since late last night. When I know something, you’ll know something.”
Ah, the power of Twitter. Put a blurb out there and everyone immediately buys it and passes it on. Whether it’s a fan site talking about players being suspended (which might turn out to be true) or a reporter like ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb claiming that Texas A&M, Missouri, Clemson and Florida State are all joining the SEC (which turned out to be false), if it’s on Twitter it’s given instant credibility.
That’s so odd. Because if you watch your local news or read a newspaper online or visit a site like this one, you hold the deliverer of information accountable for what we write or say. You’re not going to immediately endorse our views after a quick glance. But when it comes to Twitter, we see something, we pass it on, no questions asked.
I may sound like an old grump, but Twitter is a dangerous, dangerous thing.