Real fake news

A fake Nintendo 'insider' tricked fans with cherry-picked predictions

You shouldn't believe every rumor you see on Twitter — even when they turn out to be true.


If you were following the latest Nintendo Direct closely on Twitter, you may have noticed a new account called “Waddle Dee Knows” has been making the rounds. Its One of the many supposed "insiders" who gain clout by predicting the lineup of high-profile video game events — sometimes even correctly — Waddle Dee Knows gained 2,000 followers from a handful of correct predictions.

There's only one problem: the predictions were total bullshit, the account was a hoax, and a lot of people fell for it.

The next big thing — The Waddle Dee Knows account successfully "predicted" a new Super Mario Strikers would be announced at this Nintendo Direct, as well as a Wii Sports sequel. While those tweets were made hours before the Direct began, what most people didn't see were the dozens of deleted tweets that accompanied it that "predicted" as many hypothetical announcements as the account owner could come up with.

The channel was designed specifically to show the shortcomings of relying on anonymous "insiders." Waddle Dee Knows is actually Jon Cartwright, a YouTuber and content producer who released a video late last week explaining just how easy it is to fake such predictions and then use the anonymity of the internet to farm followers from it.

Sad but true — As detailed in the video, Cartwright came up with as many possible "predictions" as he could, then deleted the errant tweets after Nintendo’s Direct had aired. He then used proxy social media accounts and posts on large gaming forums like GameFAQs (yes, people still use GameFAQs) to drive "organic" interest in the account.

Cartwright even left a wildly incorrect prediction on the account — an Encanto game produced by Bandai Namco — in order to give it the whiff of authenticity. However, once several video game news websites published stories about the "insider," Cartwright decided to reveal the scam early.

"I don't blame anyone for believing this," Cartwright told Ars Technica. "I think we've just been conditioned to believe this because — every month, every week — people do this kind of thing, and I just wanted to demonstrate that you shouldn't be trusting this stuff. It's just so, so easy."