Monday, January 23, 2012

Death Wishes via Twitter

As a Giants fan, yesterday was a good day. The 49ers played a great game, but in the end, a few mistakes by a player pushed in to an unfamiliar role did them in.

The last time the Giants and 49ers faced each other in the playoffs (2003) the same sort of thing happened. A player named Trey Junkin was signed out of retirement to snap the ball for field goal attempts. He messed up a snap earlier in the game, and at the end of the game, he messed up another field goal snap and the Giants lost the game. Junkin faded away in to relative anonymity, though he had to read about the Giants in the newspapers.

In last night's game, a young player named Kyle Williams was pushed in to the role of punt returner because of an injury to the player who regularly filled that role, Ted Ginn Jr. Williams had only returned two punts this season. In the early part of the game, Williams made a mistake and the Giants got the ball. In overtime, he fumbled the ball, which led to the Giants kicking the winning field goal.

Trey Junkin was 41 years old at the time of his mistake, while Williams is 23 and a part of the 49ers team plans. The thing I want to highlight, however, is how the Web changed the reaction.

A number of fans of the 49ers went to Twitter, and Kyle Williams had his account listed and available for fans. Fans rushed to Twitter and starting sending him death wishes. Though a number of news outlets have called them "death threats", I haven't seen any evidence of that online. As opposed to threatening to kill him, they have sent messages saying they hope he, his wife, kids and family die, or that they hope he gets AIDS and dies. (Read some of the quotes here). Of course, if they were really extreme, they may have been deleted or reported to Twitter.

It is a shame how Web 2.0 technologies can lead to things like this.

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