After just seven minutes of the match with Arsenal, Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer was already a hero: he had just saved a penalty from Mesut Ozil.
But Reddit user Vikistormborn was curious about what the commentator described as their “long” history, and started searching for details on Ozil’s childhood. And after finding this image on a Telegraph story, he
or she decided to have a little fun…
“I simply circled the other biggest looking guy in the picture and tweeted that it was Neuer,” he writes.
That one tweet was enough for news organisations ranging from The Guardian, The Sun and BBC, to Yahoo! Sport, TiroLibre, and 101GreatGoals.com, who all either printed the image or referred to the newly minted factoid.
It was not true. According to various biographies, Neuer had played for Schalke since the age of 5 – not Ozil’s Westfalia.
Bizarrely, Manuel Neuer’s own Facebook page also published the image for a couple of hours, according to T-Mobile’s German sports news website – enough time to amass 30,000 likes before it was deleted.
And this final detail is what makes the whole affair particularly fascinating: because a celebrity Facebook page or Twitter account may well be best treated as just another publishing operation, not a direct line to the person in the avatar.
A 5 second scepticism check (is it too good to be true? Yes), and a 10 second check on Google Images’ search by image option, would have brought up the following results to start a factchecking process.