Fake Twitter Accounts Draw Washington Capitals Attention

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Twitter page belonging to user @jeffschultz55 has a picture of Washington Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz checking a Carolina Hurricanes player into the boards. Several hundred people follow the account, and there have been five updates since training camp opened Sunday.

"Pasta for breakfast? Oh yeah. Gotta carboload for practice today. Must teach that Carlson kid this is MY blueline," one of the tweets reads. Another says: "Have spent the past few days packing up back home and saying goodbye to all my ladies. Schultzy got game."

The tweets are candid and funny, but not actually from the Capitals defenseman, who says he's never logged on to the increasingly popular social networking site. @jeffschultz55 is a parody account, and it says as much in fine print on the upper right-hand side of the page under "Bio."

Still, as more people turn to Twitter to keep in touch with friends and follow their favorite celebrities, impostor accounts are becoming a concern for image-conscious athletes and causing confusion for others.

"My buddy Googled my name a while back, and he stumbled across [the fake account]," Schultz said. "He asked, 'Do you have a Twitter account?' I was like: 'No.' The fans, I'm sure, all know about it. What if someone puts up the wrong thing? People might get the wrong impression of the type of person you are or the things you do in your free time."

A recent tweet from prospect Karl Alzner's fake account, @kingkarl27, reads: "Man, if we keep Juice I'm never gonna make the team. Might as well throw myself in a chocolate vat and die happy, right?"

The Capitals' most popular player, Alex Ovechkin, has a genuine account with nearly 23,000 followers, but it's been inactive since January and has only 37 updates. The tweets were ghostwritten by Nate Ewell, the team's senior director of media relations.

"I don't know how much fun he had with it," Ewell said.

Defenseman Mike Green also has an account, which he says he updates himself. But pages bearing the pictures and names of Brooks Laich, José Theodore and Alexander Semin are all fakes.

"I've never been on a Twitter page, I don't have a Twitter account, I wouldn't know how to work one or find it," said Laich, adding that he wasn't all that bothered by the bogus @BrooksLaich21 account.

But Laich, the Capitals' NHL Players' Association rep, didn't seem pleased when one of the tweets was read to him: "Yes I fired [NHLPA executive director] Paul Kelly and yes I'm voting for a lockout."

"I hope those people who are following it know it's not me," Laich said.

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