Ever wonder whether the tweets you follow from your favorite Minnesota sports stars are really on the up and up? After all, there's no authentication process for Twitter. Anyone can sign up, give themselves a name and supply an e-mail address and that's pretty much it; they're up and tweeting as whomever they say they are.
Which appears to be what happened in the case of Twins catcher Joe Mauer. Go to the Twitter account set up in his name
and you see this: "Sorry, the account you were headed to has been suspended due to strange activity."
Similar fake accounts for other jock stars are still out there. The good news: Connecticut sports nut Brendan Wilhide
is on the case. A former front-office guy in minor league baseball, Wilhide has assembled a database of more than 500 confirmed and validated Twitter accounts for pro and college athletes. And it turns out that there's a Minnesota connection to his work.
Wilhide recently told the Wall Street Journal
that he began following the Twitter account of former Wild defender Shane Hnidy. After Hnidy moved to Wilhide's favorite NHL team, the Boston Bruins, he read a post that gave him pause: "I'm Chuck Norris on skates." Wilhide did a little sleuthing and found he'd been taken for a ride. When he figured out the Hnidy case was just the tip of the iceberg, he set himself up as a sports tweet enforcer and posted the results on his Web site
He pulls back the curtain on the fakes with some simple footwork, contacting the Twitter account user seeking confirmation, going to the person's team to verify the account, checking the athlete's personal Web site for mention of the Twitter account.
Wilhide's database is here
. Below is a list, with Twitter links, of some local pro athletes whose Twitter handles are verified by Wilhide. Note that if your favorite players' names are not on the list, it only means that Wilhide hasn't got around to verifying the account yet.