Nathan Dubois is a Football Twitter account with over 20k followers but he is perhaps better known for his work as fake transfer reporter and his online FIFA antics. In this miniseries, ARK talks to him about all of these activties and more. Part 1: Being an ITK.
Let’s start at the beginning, why did you start your ITK (in the know) account and did you have Football Twitter beforehand?
To be honest, starting the whole ITK thing was a bit of a joke between me and my friends, I didn’t expect it to go anywhere. I Had been on Football Twitter before but it was a long time before I started this. But yeah, with the transfer window open and all these rumours going around, we thought it be funny to see how far we go and it just took of from there. In no way did I expect it blow up as far as it did but that’s how it started.
That takes me nicely to my next question: were you surprised with how big it got?
To be honest, yeah. The first bit of news I got right when I started was Pedro to Roma; I saw it mentioned somewhere but it wasn’t mentioned that it was in an advance stage so I thought ‘what would happen if I just said it was a done deal. A couple days later, Simon Johnson tweeted that it was done and that’s when it started to blow up a little bit; not insanely blow up but I was getting quite a few followers every hour and I thought this is going somewhere. As it continued to grow even more, I got less surprised because I found out that its actually really easy and you see that as people are still doing it now. So, once I realised how it works, I wasn’t surprised but to begin with I definitely was very surprised.
How did you manage to be so convincing doing it?
I guess because I wasn’t entirely all wrong. What I used was articles from, for example, Matt Law or other big journalists that everyone would use and I was reading those articles fully. For Matt Law, he asked for a subscription and not many people would go ahead and buy it, but rather they would just look at the headline. I’d already been subscribed to his articles anyway and in his comments, he used to open it up and answer questions so I was just asking as a Chelsea fan and he used to always reply to them. So, it wasn’t entirely all false; I’d just look at stuff and put things in my own words and when people saw that, they’d see its kind of matching up to what everyone else is saying. That’s how it got to be more believable.
Was there a point that it got so big that you got scared of being exposed? I know, for example, both Falk and Fabrizio have recently called out an account for being an ITK, we’re you worried that could happen to you?
I wasn’t really worried because I didn’t really take it seriously, in the sense that I knew at some point they’ll be something that would let me down. So, I was just going to see how far I could go. In some ways it [being let down] was already happening while I was doing it; for example, people would ask me to link articles I’d done before but I hadn’t [done any] so there was nothing I could link. However, a lot of people on Twitter if they read or hear something they want to hear, they believe it and this worked in my favour. People would see me saying Havertz was done and they’d follow me, they’d like the tweet and they’d share it. And to be honest the more it went on the less people even remembered the previous things [mistakes] and the less they were brought up against me.
Why did you stop?
Well, the main reason was actually quite funny because it got to a point people were believing me and I had about 8000/9000 followers at the time. I used to do stuff like guess line-ups and these had nothing behind them, it was pure guesswork but it got to the point where everyone was anticipating what I was going to say regarding the line-up. One time I got one wrong – I think I said Pulisic was in the line-up when he actually wasn’t – and the reaction was quite funny. Everyone was just calling me out and I thought could I really be bothered to keep it going? You have to have a lot of patience to do this and I was losing my patience. I was like they’ve already spotted my mistakes how long can I keep it going and so I decided to come out and say I was fake.
After you admitted that you were a fake ITK, you went on a podcast to speak about your experience. You then faced a bit of criticism for the move, can you understand that criticism?
In some ways, yes, because obviously I understand what I was doing with the ITK, some people believed the news and really took it heart so they would be upset when I came out. I would be too in that situation. I don’t agree, although, with the criticism I received while going on the pod because it was labelled as a PR move, which I think is unfair because I’d already come out and said what I was doing was fake. Also, the opportunity was offered to me to come on the pod and I thought it was a good idea because Dami wanted to spread the message about not falling into the trap of accounts similar to me. So, I was like ‘why not? Let’s do it.’ but it was nothing more than that. So, while I can understand if people are upset with what happened earlier, I don’t think this particular criticism was justified. That’s really the best way to put it.