In the midst of Musk’s Twitter mayhem, athletes and celebrities are coping just as much as we are

No, LeBron James doesn’t want to be traded – that was brought into the world by a fake twitter feed pretending to belong to the Los Angeles Lakers superstar when a verification system that pays $8 and pretends to be someone briefly surfaced.

And no, actor Edward Norton isn’t too concerned about that possible demise of social media site under Elon Musk’s leadership.

“If a lot of that stuff was gone,” Norton said, “then we’d be better off.”

Similarly, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a four-time NFL MVP with 4.5 million followers, said, “I look forward to the day when I’m off social media, which may be sooner rather than later .”

Yes, athletes and entertainment celebrities are just like us: overseeing the chaos and uncertainty surrounding Twitter since the new owner came on board. They’re not exactly sure how to go about it — and not exactly sure that the microblogging bird app’s disappearance would be the disaster some make it out to be.

“The way I look at it, you know, Twitter is, always has been, and will always be a dumpster fire,” said actor Ryan Reynolds, certainly echoing the sentiments of many, famous or not.

“But who knows? We’ve got to play it by ear. I mean, we’ll see where it all goes,” said Reynolds, who has 20 million followers. “I was there when MySpace and Friendster were a thing, and … it feels like Twitter and TikTok are everything right now, but those things come and go like everything in life.”

Launched in 2006, Twitter created a space where celebrities could bypass traditional media and communicate directly with fans to push news or products, while in turn the site became more popular among the Hoi Polloi. There are now more than 230 million users.

Questions about the future of Twitter arose as Musk completed his $44 billion acquisition in late October. He got rid of half the full-time staff, prompted hundreds of engineers and others stop last week and it is expected that jobs related to content moderation will now be eliminated.

Concerns about fraudulent accounts and misinformation ( which Musk himself disseminated ) are not new.

But they’ve been stepping up lately.

“It’s scary right now,” said Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, who has more than 85,000 followers. He said he gets “the majority of my messages” from Twitter and uses it to connect with friends, interact with fans and promote businesses.

He compared the current state of the site to “Wikipedia growing up: You always have to check facts because it wasn’t always right.”

Timelines were littered with posts urging people to find accounts on Instagram or Mastodon or some other place that could become a focal point if—when? — Twitter is not an option.

“If you want to get your voice out there, there are other ways,” said Charles Leno Jr., an offensive lineman for the Washington Commanders with more than 25,000 supporters. “That might sound bad because I think everyone should have a voice, but it’s not true in relation to Twitter: it gives a voice to the voiceless – people who shouldn’t be speaking. You don’t have to talk about someone else’s job, relationship, or business. Support them or just shut up. There are positives about Twitter; We just need to focus more on that aspect so it can be a more engaging place.”

Seven-time Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton, whose supporters number almost 8 million, also sees both sides. He explained how the app can “pollute your mind” but also praised it as “a really powerful tool for connecting with people.”

Ian Poulter, a pro golfer with 2.2 million followers, would like to see Twitter evolve into “a forum where open discussions can take place without any form of bullying, swearing and bots.”

As a matter of fact, toxicity is inevitable for – but certainly not limited to – many public figures.

“That’s a lot. I’m not sure what you can do,” said Jessica Pegula, a world No. 3 professional tennis player deal with.”

Some in the conversation say goodbye.

Shonda Rhimes, creator of hit TVs Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson and singer Sara Bareilles are just a few of the people who said they done with twitter – and of course via twitter.

Those who advise entertainers and athletes — and in some cases tweet for them — don’t know how to go about it, even though they’ve long had a direct line to Twitter staff to solve problems.

“Anyone who uses Twitter is doing their best to ride the wave,” said George Atallah, associate executive director of external affairs at the NFL Players’ Association, one of several sports unions in touch. “Everyone – agents, governing bodies, athletes, marketing reps, unions – are all in the same boat and adjusting to the whims of the new owner.”

Jennie Smythe, founder of Girlilla Marketing, a digital marketing firm in Nashville, Tennessee, said changes to the verification process caused problems for entertainment customers, including country star Darius Rucker, who abruptly lost his blue check without warning. She said many of her clients, including musicians, actors and non-profit organizations, deal with scammers all the time.

“It’s not a vanity game,” Smythe said. “It’s more of a safeguard for followers.”

Drew Rosenhaus, an agent whose company represents about 100 active NFL players, said he longs for the days “when you could just look at the blue mark and know it was real.”

“We live in a new world on Twitter. It’s going to require a little more due diligence,” Rosenhaus said, adding that he doesn’t anticipate a “mass exodus” of his customers from the app because “it has a lot of value.”

Benito Perez-Barbadillo, a publicist whose clients include Rafael Nadal, likes that the 22-time Grand Slam champion can easily reach his 15 million followers – for now.

“We have our verified account. If that’s taken away from us, we might consider stopping using Twitter. I don’t know,” Perez-Barbadillo said. “If we don’t want to be official anymore, maybe we’ll just say, ‘Well, goodbye, Twitter.'”


AP sports writers Dave Campbell, Doug Ferguson, Jenna Fryer, Will Graves, Brett Martel, Steve Megargee, Steve Reed, Ralph Russo, Noah Trister and Teresa Walker, AP journalists Gary Gerard Hamilton in New York, Krysta Fauria in Los Angeles and Malak Harb in Dubai contributed to this report.


AP Sports: and AP Entertainment:

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. In the midst of Musk’s Twitter mayhem, athletes and celebrities are coping just as much as we are

Sarah Y. Kim

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