The tweet supposedly by Shane Warne (left) slamming MS Dhoni (centre) and Suresh Raina (right) highlights the perils of social media © Getty Images
Shane Warne’s sensational tweet slamming MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina seemed a reckless act, till the Australian clarified matters. H Natarajan dwells on the controversy that shattered Sunday morning bliss for Indian cricket fans.
Shane Warne is a controversy-addict. His list of controversies is as spectacularly long as his tally of wickets… testing positive for a banned drug, extra-marital affairs and a litany of scandals involving women, squabble with boys who had photographed him smoking (he had a sponsorship of a nicotine patch company in return for quitting smoking), acting as an informer for a bookmaker about pitch and weather conditions, an ugly on-field spat with Marlon Samuels… its an endless list.
Warne just added another to that list — or, it seemed so. One woke up on Sunday morning to find that ‘he’ had tweeted, “If 17year old Amir could be banned for 5 years, why not Dhoni & Raina with 6 others?”
It seemed Warne belatedly realised, or was made to realise, that his tweet had the potential to destroy a good chunk of his personal wealth should Mahendra Singh Dhoni and/or Suresh Raina seek legal redress against the libelous tweet. Twitteratis assumed Warne was trying to cover his tracks by deleting his sensational tweet, but which time 34 had apparently retweeted and 48 had favourited. The damage was seemingly done. With 1.5 million people following Warne, the damage looked considerable.
But several hours after the much-talked-about tweet became the talk of Twitterverse, Warne clarified that it was a “made up tweet” that he did not send it. He also added that the matter has been reported to the police.
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It did seem astonishing how a man who has been globe-trotting for nearly quarter of a century and who does extensive media work was not discreet in choosing his words — especially about public personalities. It’s true that the Indian cricket captain has been in centre of a storm that is raging Indian cricket. But as things presently stand, it’s nothing more than allegations against Dhoni. And allegations mean nothing till it’s conclusively proved in the court of law. Dhoni is the 16th highest paid athlete in the world, ahead of even megastars like Rafael Nadal and Usain Bolt, while Warne is one of the titans in the history of crickets and his words would be taken very seriously by the masses. The tweet had the destructive power to cause pecuniary loss.
Even if it was a bit late, the Warne clarification ensured that the mischief was brought under control and fact set right. However, the incident emphatically proves how vulnerable people can be in the age of social media; even those who exercise extreme cautious got hoodwinked into thinking that it’s from the verified Shane Warne.
One can traverse the Cyberspace endlessly, but the bogus Shane Warne tweet shows that one has to be eternally watchful of landmines in the form of fakes and photoshopped pictures.
And it was not even an April 1 post to laugh it as an all-Fool’s Day joke.
(H Natarajan, formerly All India Deputy Sports Editor of the Indian Express and Senior Editor with Cricinfo/Wisden, is the Executive Editor of CricketCountry.com. A prolific writer, he has written for many of the biggest newspapers, magazines and websites all over the world. A great believer in the power of social media, he can be followed on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/H.Natarajan and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/hnatarajan)