While the NBA and NHL Finals are both underway, this is a relatively quiet period of the sports calendar. Baseball is moving into the dog days of summer, and the Belmont Stakes take place in a couple weeks to potentially crown a new Triple Crown champion. And of course, the NFL is in the midst of OTAs.
If you were getting a little bored, The Ringer dropped an amazing investigative piece Tuesday evening. One of their writers, Ben Detrick, got an anonymous tip that Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo has been secretly operating five anonymous Twitter accounts. From those accounts, Colangelo is alleged to have criticized some of his own players, publicly debate coaching staff decisions, telegraph their move up to No. 1 for Markelle Fultz, and disclose nonpublic medical information and gossip about members of the team.
Detrick’s source said they worked in artificial intelligence, and, “after noticing a ‘bunch of weird tweets’ directed at Sixers writers, used an open-source data analysis tool to link five accounts through commonalities including similarities in who the accounts followed and linguistic quirks.”
Colangelo acknowledged running one of the accounts, but it was a non-tweeting account that he said was simply for tracking news. He denied the other ones, and the 76ers have since launched an investigation into the matter.
The story is a great read because it’s just something you don’t see all that much. Kevin Durant was busted for a burner account, so I can’t say this is entirely stunning, but it’s still entertaining.
It got me thinking, 49ers front office folks and coaches have to have burner accounts, right? There is of course the obvious one.
Smash Mouth had to be Baalke’s burner account amirite?— Jeff Deeney (@PFF_Jeff) May 30, 2018
But I do wonder for real how many might have them. PFT set the over/under at 31.5 in response to a Brian Westbrook tweet, and former NFL executive Amy Trask was happy to take the over.
Psst: take the over.— Amy Trask (@AmyTrask) May 30, 2018
John Lynch and Jed York are publicly on Twitter, while Kyle Shanahan, Paraag Marathe, and others do not have public Twitter accounts. I would not be at all surprised if some of them have an anonymous Twitter account to keep an eye on players and news. I also know that teams are investing more and more are contracting out prospect social media analysis in the pre-draft process.
I imagine most teams are doing something to search player social media, but we are starting to see it turn into a business model. And given how teams are always looking for that next edge in analytics, I have to think teams are going to continue investing more and more in this kind of analysis.
In the meantime, we can try and figure out who exactly is a burner account for some of the more notable members of the 49ers. You know they’re out there, on Twitter and in the comments!