HTFP reported earlier this week that Sheffield daily The Star issued a public denial over a Twitter account run under the name ‘Greg Bryan’, who was masquerading as a sports journalist for the paper.
The profile was brought to the attention of digital journalist Darren Burke, and was later deleted after The Star threatened to take action.
After reading the story on HTFP, University of Portsmouth journalism lecturer Mary Williams suggested the photo used to accompany the profile was that of Jussi Eronen, pictured above left, a journalist in Finland.
HTFP then contacted Jussi, who is managing editor of Helsinki-based weekly news magazine Suomen Kuvalehti, and he confirmed the photo was his.
He told us: “It’s interesting to hear that my Twitter profile picture has been in such fake use. It’s a good reminder for all of us that we’ve to be careful with the phenomenon called fake news.”
The ‘Greg Bryan’ profile had been active between the start of January and its removal last week, and mainly tweeted news and transfer rumours relating to Sheffield United Football Club.
Jussi extended his thanks to Darren and The Star for exposing the account, saying he was “grateful” for their work.
He added: “Fake journalists and fake news are dangerous for the general public, for media industry and for democracy. That’s why investigative journalism is important. It has to expose all kinds of fraudsters.”
Star editor Nancy Fielder said: “While we appreciate and understand that there must be lots of people out there who want to share in the success of the Sheffield Star, we won’t tolerate imposters posing as Star journalists.
“We monitor Twitter and Facebook closely for incidents like this and we’ll continue to make sure that people posing as our journalists are exposed.”
Darren added: “I was contacted on Twitter by a Sheffield United fan saying that Greg Bryan was a real Blades reporter, unlike me. I can take criticism but thought that it was best to put the record straight that the guy didn’t actually exist.”