It may come as a jaw-dropping shock to some of you sports fans out there, but not all official athlete Twitter accounts are actually updated by athletes.

Having twitter can be good for their brand, and while a player may not care enough to actually use the social media network, he may care about his marketability. So, the solution then, is ghost-tweeters. I ghost for Clark Gillies rarely-used Twitter account (it exists solely for sharing information about his latest charity endeavours), and I know other people involved in social media who man the keys behind other more prominent accounts. It happens.

Knowing this leads to skepticism – am I getting real player opinions, or just propaganda? Right around the time the owners made their initial CBA proposal, there was a marked spike in the amount of “We just want to play, we’re the good guys” tweets from NHLers. The timing would make sense, given that negotiations were just starting, but they felt a little desperate, a little early. They knew negotiations wouldn’t be easy, so it seems unlikely that the pleas would come months before any deadline. 

Because of that, it was easy to think a directive could’ve been issued by the NHLPA to get out ahead on the war of public opinion (which would be foolish, given that neither the owners nor Bettman give a shit).

Still, there would be something inherently dishonest about using a player’s feed to plant ideas that appear to be coming from an authority of sorts, when really it’s just a commercial for the union in tweet form.

Today, we may have seen our first little oopsie.

The top of my Tweetdeck has three buttons: My “JB” feed, my “Clark Gillies” feed, and my “Easton_Hockey” feed, who I also tweet for. About once I week I send a tweet through the wrong feed, because I’m a moron. It happens.

Here’s a screenshot of Henrik Lundqvist’s Twitter feed today (start from the bottom up, of course). Very motivational:

Okay, maybe the picture on top of this post is a little too sarcastic, but c’mon – if you’re talking pro sports, which “great” implies, “heart” is worth roughly zero if you don’t have the raw skill. People hate that honesty.

Anyway, it just doesn’t seem like something Lundqvist would suddenly bust out. “What’s on my mind…”

Awhile later, Jordin Tootoo decided he had something on his mind. Again, bottom-up.

Wait a second…

Did a ghost-tweeter forget they had used that part of the script the day before? Is there multiple ghost-tweeters, and they didn’t communicate about the day before?

Or, is this legit:

Granted, that’s a slick (and quick) cover, so he didn’t fully get hung out to dry, but still: not havin’ it.

I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say “Yeah, probably an innocent mistake,” but as Tyler Dellow pointed out to me – check out the rest of Jordin Tootoo’s Twitter feed – he knows how to use the RT button. He does it often, and correctly.

And further? They have the same agent. (Update: apparently Tootoo has switched from Newport to Titan.)

So, I’m chalking this one up to a behind-the-scenes mishap.

I don’t know if the NHLPA is pushing for more player tweets trying to sway the public opinion, I don’t know if agents are behind keeping their clients’ feeds PR friendly, and I don’t know what happened here. What I do know, is that some of the feeds are not being run by the players themselves, and that’s half the reason many of them are so goddamn painful.

Comments (8)

  1. Give me David Booth and his miscues over canned fluff any day.

  2. Insightful as ever Justin, always a pleasure to read your columns! #seriously

  3. I’m guessing @ovi8 is written by Alex Ovechkin himself, or possibly an 11 year-old Justin Bieber fan.

  4. “i meant to retweet those, but i accidentally sat here and typed them out word for word. whoops!”

  5. Justin, I look forward to seeing Easton Hockey tweet photos of your cat.

  6. I think it’s pretty safe to say, Paul Bissonette’s Twitter is prrooooobably the real deal…

  7. One way of easily telling either who is running a parody account or if someone is ghost tweeting for someone else is if the account is only following one person. Check who that person is and you usually have your answer. *cough* Clark Gillies *cough*. Although obviously Justin doesn’t care if others know he runs that account or else he wouldn’t have blogged about it publicly.

    On another note, does anyone else think the @strombone1 account that almost everyone seems to think is Roberto Luongo is being ghost tweeted by some comedy writer?

  8. I totally agree with you! As somebody who uses twitter often that’s not a mistake at all.

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