A Schoolboy Gained 25,000 Twitter Followers By Posing As A Football Journalist

He tricked the Twitterati from his own living room. Via the Financial Times.

1. Over the last 18 months, @SamuelRhodes_ tweeted breaking football news, like this, to 25,000 followers.

2. Describing himself in his Twitter bio as a “freelance writer” for the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times, he communicated with professional footballers and news reporters.

3. However, @SamuelRhodes_ was not a real journalist.

The Twitter account was being run by Sam Gardiner, a 16-year-old schoolboy from North London, and its photograph was a stock image.

By tweeting teasers, opinions, and news sourced from existing papers, he managed to convince industry professionals that he was in the know.

4. At one point, he exchanged private messages with James McArthur, a footballer with Wigan Athletic.

This allowed him to get in touch with other Wigan players to discuss transfer rumours.

In January, he tweeted that Mohamed Salah was finalising a £9m move to Liverpool. This claim was picked by by Al Jazeera.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Sam claimed that he did not intend to make money, but simply wanted to be taken seriously.

“[Spreading rumours] was the only way to get big,” he told told the FT “Everyone has opinions, not everyone has access to the transfer market.”

Sam’s Twitter account has now been suspended.

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Tabatha Leggett is head of buzz at BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.
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