There are a lot of reasons you shouldn't believe @NFLRig, the Twitter account that emerged last night after the Super Bowl, bearing 14 "accurate predictions" about the game, timestamped to noon Sunday, 10 hours before the game concluded.
1. Why would an NFL conspiracy benefit the Patriots, the team that most regularly flouts its rules?
2. The creator of @NFLRig only publicly tweeted once outside of the predictions, and it was a testy response to a user who questioned the account's authenticity:
Lol, "big man."
3. This exact same thing happened in the wake of the World Cup final, and it was quickly revealed to be a hoax.
In that case, the account @fifndhs tweeted dozens and dozens of predictions about the match beforehand, and systematically deleted the ones that didn't come true. @fifndhs wasn't private when he or she wrote those tweets, though, and users took screenshots of a bunch of inaccurate predictions.
Andy Baio wrote a good piece afterward about the way these kinds of "predictions" take advantage of our trust in technology and preexisting biases toward major organizations (FIFA, the NFL), bodies that we may already have good reasons to distrust.
The beauty of this hoax is that it works with any scenario limited to less than a few thousand permutations, and on any service that lets you mark posts or accounts private.
@NFLRig was smart enough not to take its predictions public until after deleting all of the alternates. But it's still a dumb hoax that no one should pay any attention to.
Madden 15, on the other hand...
Joe Bernstein is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Joseph Bernstein at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.