Don’t believe all you read on Twitter

In the grand tradition of Mark Twain, reports of Mike Tyson’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

An irresponsible post Tuesday on Twitter by a national radio talk show host claimed the former world heavyweight champion had died in a car crash in upstate New York.

On his Twitter account, Dino Costa, who hosts a show on Sirius/XM Radio, posted the news but cautioned his followers that he could not verify the facts. Costa claims someone anonymously called him and claimed to be an eyewitness to the accident.

But there was no accident. It was a hoax in the grand tradition of “The Howard Stern Show,” and either Costa fell for it or he was the mastermind behind it. Either way, he quickly found himself under attack in the Twitter universe and lashed back that he never said Tyson had died.

Here’s his initial post on Tyson:

“FLASH ALERT: Just received word that Mike Tyson was killed in a car crash in upstate NY, NO CONFIRMATION AS OF YET…will keep you posted.”

Then there were these follow-up Tweets:

“Pray that this news concerning MIKE TYSON is not true, received call from person who claims to have been at the scene…NO CONFIRMATION YET”

“I want to stress, this news on MIKE TYSON HAS NOT BEEN CONFIRMED…we received a call right after my show ended, THERE IS NO CONFIRMATION…”

Fortunately, no credible news source went with Costa’s posts as the gospel. The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Norm Clarke called Tyson’s brother-in-law, who told him Tyson was fine. Tyson went on Twitter on Tuesday night to proclaim himself alive and well.

The moral of the story? Don’t believe everything you see on Twitter. And to those who think they’re breaking news, how about following the first rule of Journalism 101 — make sure you have the facts straight and corroborated before you go public with them.

■ CONSOLATION PRIZE — Yes, Green Bay’s 37-20 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday left Packers fans crying in their beer. But good news came out of Wisconsin last weekend as Laura Kaeppeler was crowned Miss America at Planet Hollywood.

Kaeppeler, a 23-year-old brunette from Kenosha, represented Wisconsin successfully. She also gave an on-the-air shout-out on Saturday to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to call her.

Rodgers probably could use some consoling. We’ll see if he’s smart enough to take Kaeppeler up on her offer.

■ NOT-SO-GREAT WEST — Of the 32 Division I basketball conferences, only one — the Great West — can say none of its teams has a winning record entering league play today.

At 10-10, Utah Valley is the best of a sorry bunch that includes New Jersey Institute of Technology and North Dakota at 7-9, Houston Baptist at 6-10, Texas-Pan American at 5-15 and mighty Chicago State at 1-16.

Fortunately, the league won’t get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and thus deny someone worthy of a spot.


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