(Image from Deadspin.com)
This thread is all over the place...so please bear with me. It's early
Unless you follow sports, and are into social networking, I doubt that you’ve heard of this story yet. However, it’s an interesting one that does
not require an interest in sports or social media as it deals with social engineering, manipulation, identity theft, and a complete disregard for the
norm by the (sports) MSM.
So basically, this person (as of now, no one knows for sure WHO exactly they are) got popular as a supposed “hot” 22 year old female who was
really knowledgeable about sports and betting…got a huge following on her gambling blog and Twitter, and eventually landed a job writing for
ESPN’s “Playbook” – Formally called “Page 2” – where even Hunter S. Thompson often wrote.
You know ESPN…The Worldwide Leader in Sports…
All without a face to face meeting or vetting of any kind.
Okay, I’ve gotta sidetrack for a minute.
Now, I know a lot of people don’t use Twitter, or understand it, and that’s fine. But I’ll explain something real quick as it’s relevant to
If you have a lot of “followers” on Twitter (like 150k) an opportunity arises for you to make some cash via advertising. Same thing for certain
facebook pages…If it’s a page that garners a certain amount of likes, you get paid through advertising.
Alright, moving on. Throughout her time writing, she would often use random photos of hot chicks, claiming it was her…and what do guys who like
sports also like? Hot chicks of course. So she was obviously using that angle to her advantage, and her manipulation began immediately.
Pre ESPN she worked for covers.com, a website focused on sports betting. Here is how her time was spent:
A few days later, Phillips asked Matt for his advice on a Cardinals-Brewers game. The over/under for the game was 7.5 runs. Matt told her to take
the over. She said she was betting $3,000 on the game. She sent him the betting slip to prove it, and he thought this was way over the top. Well, he
thought to himself, at least I'm not betting against her. The final score of the game? 5-2. She lost her $3,000, and she was mad. She responded by
sending him an invoice for $5,000 through Nilesh Prasad. "She said I owed her that money in addition to thousands more for reasons unbeknownst to
me," he told Deadspin. "She said if I didn't paypal it to her that night she would have the LAPD come to my apartment and rob me. I told her I
don't carry cash, and kept a hunting knife by my bed for three weeks." (According to a screengrab of a Gchat conversation, she told him the LAPD
would "cordially come by" his apartment to take the money). Just as Matt became certain he was dealing with a scammer and prepared to cut ties with
her, Phillips received some news of her own: She was going to work for ESPN.
Not only did things like the above occur numerous times, but she also solicited people for money towards a website she was starting.
"The couple times I did send money, it was designated for adspace on her website," he continued. "Guess how many ads went up on that piece of
sh** website? Zero. To cap it off, she deleted her gmail account, thus eliminating all the evidence on her end, when she could no longer get money
from me. A true scammer move."
Eventually, due to her popularity at covers.com, ESPN contacted her to write for them.
Not long after, she got a contract to write a weekly column for ESPN. It made some sense for Bristol. She was young and attractive, if any of the
photos of her were to be believed, and she wrote fluently about sports gambling, a subject ESPN has always struggled to address, even obliquely. All
those mismatched photos and all those casually dropped personal details kept her audience at a teasing distance. In general, she seemed
precision-engineered to appeal to a certain kind of ESPN reader.
And so far, no one had seen this person. Or checked her out apparently.
During her time writing for ESPN, she managed to highjack two twitter accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers (she was about to get more
before the story broke, all dealing with sports satire) and a facebook page called NBA Meme’s.
Her idea that was pitched to these people involved the starting of a website that promoted funny sports stuff, and that it would be backed by ESPN.
Contributors would get a percentage of revenue based on page views. Some of the people she contacted in an attempt to highjack their account included
the John Madden and Happy Gilmore parody page ( 234000 followers combined) People were easily persuaded to go along with her request as she actually
worked for ESPN.
You can read about how she actually convinced someone
to turn over their facebook page here.
It goes really, really deep. And the sports world has been talking about it a lot since Deadspin broke it last night.
Here are more links if you are interested:
Is An ESPN Columnist Scamming People On The Internet?
Sarah Phillips Admits She
"Concealed" Her Identity, Made "Poor Choices With Who To Trust" [UPDATE]
Sarah Phillips, Mysterious Writer, Fired By ESPN
Sarah Phillips Scandal Raises New
Concerns for Online Journalism
As you can see in one of the above links, ESPN did fire her after all the craziness came to light.
But the issue I want to hit on is online journalism in general.
Hell, we see it here on ATS all the time…Freelance writers posting about UFO’s or Government cover-ups or whatever, and because it came from a new
site, well, you know, it’s gotta be true right?
In the quest of Denying Ignorance”, whether in the subject matter found here, sports, entertainment, or a myriad of any other subjects, how can
people really, truly, discern reliable, reputable, unbiased, ethical journalism anymore?
I’m starting to think we can’t. extra DIV