The Philadelphia 76ers confirmed Wednesday the team was investigating president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo over a report he had used multiple fake Twitter accounts to praise his own work and criticize players.
A report on The Ringer news site said Colangelo had secretly operated five Twitter accounts under bogus identities and had used them to take potshots at Sixers players and coaching staff.
“An online media outlet filed a story linking multiple social media accounts to 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo,” the Sixers said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The allegations are serious and we have commenced an independent investigation into the matter. We will report the results of that investigation as soon as it is concluded.”
In a statement issued to The Ringer, Colangelo acknowledged using one anonymous Twitter account but denied any link to the four other accounts.
“Like many of my colleagues in sports, I have used social media as a means to keep up with the news,” Colangelo said.
“While I have never posted anything whatsoever on social media, I have used the @Phila1234567 Twitter account referenced in this story to monitor our industry and other current events.
“This storyline is disturbing to me on many levels, as I am not familiar with any of the other accounts that have been brought to my attention, nor do I know who is behind them or what their motives may be in using them.”
The Ringer report said the site had received a tip-off in February that Colangelo was using the fake accounts.
The anonymous source said they had used an open-source data analysis tool which had pinpointed striking similarities between all five accounts.
The report said that after contacting the Sixers with questions about two of the Twitter accounts, the status of the three other suspect accounts switched from public to private within hours.
While the account acknowledged by Colangelo was only used to follow or monitor other Twitter users, the four other accounts were used to post messages.
From April 2016 until last week, the accounts insulted players including the Sixers own Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz, while criticising executives such as former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie and Toronto president Masai Ujiri.
“And, at every turn, the accounts relentlessly defended or promoted Colangelo,” the Ringer wrote.
Embiid appeared to brush off the story in a response on Twitter.
“Fun night on Twitter lmao.. All jokes asides I don’t believe the story. That would just be insane,” he wrote.
The Cameroonian star later told ESPN that Colangelo had denied insulting him.
“I talked to him and he said that he didn’t say that,” Embiid said.
“He called me just to deny the story. Gotta believe him until proven otherwise. If true though, that would be really bad.” (Agence France-Presse)
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