ITV News today ran a story about French footballer Thierry Henry joining Twitter (click here for a screengrab). They also tweeted about it to more than 100,000 followers:
The only problem was, it wasn't actually Thierry Henry. It seems ITV was tricked by a number of people vouching for the authenticity of the account, which had helped it take off so quickly and so convincingly. Former footballer Fabrice Muamba really got things rolling with a claim that Henry had phoned him to tell him the account was genuine.
Former Mirror editor Piers Morgan, no stranger to hoaxes, had also tweeted about the account and expressed his desire for the fake Henry to follow him back. He also shared Muamba's claims of authenticity with his followers and there then followed tweets from a host of well-followed media and sports personalities, including Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker mentioning the account.
This curious tale got curioser still when Muamba subsequently claimed the real Thierry Henry had been in touch - this time by BlackBerry Messenger - to say it wasn't genuine, leading Muama to claim he had been hoaxed by a Thierry Henry impersonator with an impressive contacts book and a similarly impressive impression of the French star.
Of course this isn't the first time people in the media have fallen for spoof Twitter accounts. A recent example included the BBC running a story last month based on a tweet from a fake account in the name of horse racing pundit John McCririck:
And at this point a confession: the Twitter account of this very blog retweeted the McCririck tweet, having followed the link from the BBC's story.
Other examples of the media being tricked by fake Twitter profiles included the Daily Mail falling for a fake Steve Jobs in 2010.
Meanwhile, the fake Thierry Henry packed his bags and ran for the hills the second he was rumbled, leaving the rest of us to wonder why people bother setting up fake Twitter accounts (not to be confused with some excellent parodies, which generally admit very clearly their intent).