Yet again, our Future News series has served the unintended purpose of exposing the gullible and outing those who refuse to fact-check or credit their sources. But this time, the actual Sammy Ameobi got roped into it all.
It all started when ESPN ran a Future News about Leo Messi's ghost playing for Barcelona as real, then it reached new heights when our story about Cristiano Ronaldo missing the plane home from Euro 2012 for a Cinnabon was picked up by the EFE and tabloids around Europe (and even became an RT video report). Now we have our post about Zlatan Ibrahimovic telling the children of Paris to give him money exposing the unreliability of playing whisper down the lane on social media sites.
Though Zlatan has been known to say some ridiculous things, this was a bit too ridiculous even for him. The story included Ibrahimovic using the phrase "Zlaritable donation" and had im practicing Taekwondo while talking to the press about the French tax code. It was all good fun and taken as the satire that it was until it started getting taken out of context on Twitter and Facebook.
One parody Twitter account with nearly 100,000 followers republished part of the fake Zlatan quote on their monetized Sulia page without attribution (the excuse, which they found to be perfectly reasonable, being that they didn't read the title or follow the link to the original post from the shady mirror site they found it on). Another Twitter account parody of a famous footballer found a screenshot of that unattributed quote on Facebook and put it on a photo of Zlatan, then tweeted it to their 500,000 followers ("what's worse, plagiarism or making people believe that someone said something that they didn't?" asked the account doing both of those things when confronted on the matter).
Suddenly that image and screenshots of the unattributed fake Zlatan quotes were spreading across social media platforms and being taken as fact by even more people who didn't think to do a quick check to see if they're real. Like a BBC match commentator and Newcastle's Sammy Ameobi, who tweeted a screenshot of the fake Zlatan quote -- spreading it to even more people and with an added, verified reason to believe it was true -- along with the hashtag "#zlaritable."
— Samuel Ameobi (@Sammy_Ameobi) February 6, 2013
Excellent question, Sammy.