Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Pity the F1 fool - Be careful what you believe on the internet

Published by Ryan Gault

Twitter can highlight both the best and the worst of F1 on the internet.

I could fool you. I could fool the whole world if I wanted to. It would only take a little bit of effort and time, and possibly a bit of luck, to do it. The funny thing would be that hardly anyone would question it; they would believe every single word that had been written down in front of them.

In 2009, Twitter took off big time. It does indeed feel like the majority of the world is on it. There are, admittedly, some very good uses for using the service, especially if you are a fan of Formula 1 (which I suspect you are, considering you are on this site). Follow the right people, and you are given the latest information within seconds of it being released to the media. Instead of having to wait for an article to appear on Autosport, it is out on Twitter and can be discussed even before the first update on that page is out on the internet.

But that is only if you manage to follow the right people.

Peter Sauber. In my own mind a simple legend, of course, I am totally biased. He is, of course, the owner of the returning Sauber team. Now, I don’t wish any offence onto the great man, but can you really see him being the type who uses Twitter? No, I can’t see it either. Perhaps his son, Alex Sauber might be the type (now in charge of the team’s marketing activites).

So I do indeed wonder why a certain Formula 1 “news” agency opted to pick up on the fact that Peter Sauber, on an unverified twitter account, said the following:

...second driver to be announced next week. The team is ready to work. happy new year.

This was posted on the 30th December 2009. Sauber has only just confirmed Pedro de la Rosa this week.

Amazingly, when a certain “news” company picked it up, it spread round the internet quicker than Usain Bolt down 100m. It didn’t take long for a reliable account, in the form of Jonathan Noble, of Autosport, to make a quick check with the real Peter Sauber, to prove it was a simple fake account.

To fool the world, though. It does sound like a bit of a challenge, doesn’t it? You would think it may require me to be on the television. Or indeed, turn into a taxi driver and spot Cristiano Ronaldo walking out of White Hart Lane (fans of the BBC live text of transfer deadline day will know what I am talking about).

In fact, all it needs is a half decent connection to the internet, a Twitter account and the ability to use hashtags. When Tom G suggested in the comments that we should lead a certain “news” company up the garden path, the following tweet, on my own Twitter account, followed:

I've heard from some sources that Campos Meta will announce Vitaly Petrov as their new driver. Bringing in 7million euros to the team #f1

I can confirm that I have no sources inside the F1 paddock. I will also happily say that seven million Euros was plucked from the air. I don’t know however if Vitaly Petrov will go to Campos Meta 1 or not. That will have to be seen in the future. What I love about my rumour, is that it is perfectly possible, but the way to spread a good rumour is the use of a hashtag. Some F1 fans that use Twitter do indeed follow the #f1 hashtag to possibly catch up on the news.

Originally, I was disappointed at the end of the Sunday evening, that only five non-Sidepodcast people had retweeted that message. I was indeed sure that more had read it. I’ll take this time to apologise to the people who believed that message, yes, I did lead you all up a one way street. Block me if you like.

I did think all was lost, but that was until Tom (once again) came across a link on a Spanish speaking website. Although the use of Google Translator was required, it did appear that the main structure of my tweet was involved. Seven million Euros is indeed mentioned, with a company called Megafon, which is a Russian mobile phone operator.

Easy. Too easy. I could do it again if I wanted to as well, I bet some people won’t read this article properly, so won’t realise that when I say:

Ralf Schumacher is going to USF1.

That I am totally lying. It won’t happen but a select bunch of people don’t read the whole story. That is the important thing, the whole story.

My tweet could have easily been caught out; it was on my own account, in the middle of me discussing the West Ham v Arsenal game on at that time. Odd timing for a breaking news story. I have clearly no previous history of correctly breaking Formula 1 stories and I never backed it up with anything.

Check the sources, how important is that. I’m stating the obvious but probably 90% of Formula 1 fans on the internet don’t know about the best and worst places. Sidepodcast sorted that out a year ago, a page which is still relevant today. Sadly, the “news” sources which produce the most incorrect stories still seem to end up everywhere I go. Be it something like the BBC Sport website, a forum or even in general chat with friends. (When football isn’t the main discussion)

So if you are reading an article with a three letter abbreviation or a certain German newspaper near it, it is more than likely to be incorrect. If you see something on Twitter, not by an inside source, or a journalist, again, it is likely to be incorrect.

The internet. Used by bunch of liars. Me included.