UPDATE: The fake Twitter account referenced below, @RekaGyorgy_, has been suspended by Twitter, likely because it was a spam/bot account that was impersonating someone else. Multiple teammates had come forward on social media to label the account a fake one. The athlete being impersonated, Reka Gyorgy, had already released a statement about Lia Thomas. That statement is at the bottom of the original story.
Social media is a virus. It can be a force for good (like those times it helps some people reconnect after being separated at birth) or it can be a force for evil. In my experience, it seems like it’s more often the latter than the former.
These online social networks make it very easy to spread false information or get people to support a cause you agree with. All it takes is typing in the right words, the right people to share it, and it’s off to the races, racking up interactions and follows.
It happens all the time, and you can never be quite sure if that viral post from a Facebook page or a Twitter account is really real.
For example, both Ukraine and Russia have been able to use social media to spread what is essentially propaganda for their respective sides in the current conflict. You have probably seen some viral post on Ukraine’s successes or Russia’s failures and have liked, shared, or retweeted it. But there are instances where those were overly-exaggerated claims and the truth was a little less crazy. But that’s what happens during times like these.
Closer to home, there is a lot of talk about Lia Thomas, whose controversial successes late last week made headlines. A fully-developed, biological male competing in women’s sports has activists on all sides up in arms, and there is endless opportunity for scammers to sucker you in.
Take this Twitter account that allegedly belongs to Reka Gyorgy, one of the swimmers who competed against Thomas last week. It went viral and picked up thousands of followers over one tweet.
My finals spot was stolen by Lia Thomas, who is a biological male. Until we all refuse to compete nothing will change. Thanks for all the support retweets and follows I wont stop fighting.
— Reka🏊♀️ (@RekaGyorgy_) March 20, 2022
However, there are several red flags with the account.
The first is timing. The account shows up as being created in November 2021, which is very odd for a student-athlete who has been competing for several years in any sport. There are also very few tweet on the account’s timeline, and prior to the viral tweet, none of them belonged to the account itself. They were retweets of politicians and candidates.
Then there was this very odd tweet threaded in with the original viral tweet.
Wow I love you all @RekaGyorgy_ I'm trying to follow back
— Reka🏊♀️ (@RekaGyorgy_) March 20, 2022
You don’t usually put your own Twitter handle in a tweet. No one does that.
In the replies to this account, you see a number of folks pointing out that if you search for “Amanda191923” in Twitter’s search bar, it directs you to this account. A first name followed by a string of numbers is a pretty tell-tale sign that the account belongs to a bot of some sort, and whoever runs this account changed its details to look like someone that could draw a lot of eyes. The carefully-crafted viral tweet was probably amplified by a lot of similar bots within that user’s network in order to draw as much attention as possible.
It’s extremely important to not get roped into scams like this because while these bots are often harmless and exist quietly in the Twitterverse, some of them can be particularly malicious and try to take advantage of users who are not as tech-savvy as you or I are.
We’ve all fallen for a fake account’s tricks before, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. But it’s important in an era like this one, where information comes out at us so rapidly, to take in all information with a critical eye and make sure we’re only retweeting or amplifying the right messages.
Shame on whoever is using this student’s name and photo for their bot account, though. That’s just horrible. If there is an upside to this, the swimmer herself, Reka Gyorgy, did release a statement related to the controversy over Lia Thomas.
Virginia Tech swimmer Reka Gyorgy has released a full statement on the NCAA allowing Lia Thomas to compete in the 500 freestyle. She was 17th in the event.
“Every event that transgender athletes participated in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet” pic.twitter.com/Z0J9lUY3pN
— Kyle Sockwell (@kylesockwell) March 20, 2022
With all due respect, I would like to address something that is a problem in our sport right now and hurting athletes, especially female swimmers,” the letter read. “Everyone has heard and known about transgender swimmer, Lia Thomas, and her case including all the issues and concerns that her situation brought into our sport. I’d like to point out that I respect and fully stand with Lia Thomas; I am convinced that she is no different than me or any other D1 swimmer who has woken up at 5am her entire life for morning practice. She has sacrificed family vacations and holidays for a competition. She has pushed herself to the limit to be the best athlete she could be. She is doing what she is passionate about and deserves that right. On the other hand, I would like to critique the NCAA rules that allow her to compete against us, who are biologically women.
I’m writing this letter right now in hopes that the NCAA will open their eyes and change these rules in the future. It doesn’t promote our sport in a good way and I think it is disrespectful against the biologically female swimmers who are competing in the NCAA.
This statement has been shared by multiple major news outlets, so if we got scammed on this one I’m just going to blame Fox News.
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