LeBron James Trade, and Other Fake Sports Tweets, Wreak Twitter Havoc

A verified Twitter account pretending to represent Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James requested a trade back to the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier today, sparking a Twitter frenzy among sports fans. It was the result of a deeply questionable new policy rolled out today by Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk.

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Los Angeles Lakers legend LeBron James does not want to be traded back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, despite what a phony Twitter account claimed on Wednesday. (Image: USA Today Sports)

Instead of rewarding blue check marks to public figures who verify their identity to the platform – the marks’ original and only purpose – Musk now offers them for anyone to purchase for $7.99 per month. That’s the price of his new Twitter Blue subscription plan, which requires no vetting of any kind. It’s part of a strategy Musk devised to stop his platform from losing what he claims is $4M per day.

But as soon as Twitter Blue rolled out on Wednesday, the trolls rolled in. An account named @KINGjamez announced: “I am officially requesting a trade. Thank you #LakersNation for all the support through the years. Onto bigger and better things! #Thekid fromAKRON #ImComingHome.”

A tweet from a blue-check verified account claiming to represent LeBron James was fraudulent. (Image: TMZ)

The real LeBron James’ Twitter handle is @kingjames, with an “s.” However, it was the blue check mark that caused thousands of freaked-out sports fans to overlook the misspelling. The tweet remained online for 30 minutes and generated thousands of engagements, according to Snopes.

The Bird is NOT the Word

In other fake Twitter news, pitcher Aroldis Chapman reportedly tweeted – in English and Spanish – that he had re-signed with the New York Yankees for three years. This a month after the team dropped him from the roster for skipping a mandatory workout. (Yeah, right.)

Two-time NHL MVP Connor McDavid also reportedly tweeted that he was being traded from the Edmonton Oilers – where he is so revered, he was named captain in 2016 – to the New York Islanders.

And ESPN sports analyst Adam Schefter reported that Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels was fired. (This claim was more believable, considering the Raiders’ 2-6 record in McDaniels’ first year in charge.)

All these tweets also came from fake accounts, which also featured blue check marks. As per Musk’s promise to permanently suspend all accounts impersonating other accounts, they were all banished from the platform. However, this only occurred after they were seen, liked, and shared tens of thousands of times. Their damage to the platform’s reputation had already been done.

Earlier Wednesday, Musk tweeted: “Please note that Twitter will do lots of dumb things in coming months. We will keep what works & change what doesn’t.”

Maybe reportedly firing half of Twitter’s 7,500 full-time employees last Friday was not one of the things that worked.

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