Elderly Gamer Bullied By YouTuber Has The Last Laugh
Tony is a 60-something year old, chain-smoking widower who enjoys spending his time playing online games. Runescape is his go-to, although he's also been known to be fond of World of Warcraft.
Like many gamers more than half his age, Tony also live-streams his game play on Twitch. He's amassed a small group of followers on the platform, mostly because of his easy-going, grandfatherly charm.
Tony always makes a point of remembering his followers birthdays when they join him in his chat room. When something particularly exciting happens during game-play, he often shouts "Yahoo!!" much to the delight of his teenage and 20-something fellow players.
On Friday (01/08/16), however, Tony became the subject of massive internet witch hunt.
"Drama Alert", a YouTube channel which bills itself as the "#1 Source for News on the Social Interactions in Online Entertainment", posted an online exclusive regarding Tony.
The channel's creator and commentator, Keemstar, "outed" Tony as a convicted pedophile and it posted supposed proof of his heinous past.
The man in the photo (John W. Phillips) kinda looked like Tony. Of course, he also sort of looked like any other Caucasian man in his mid 60s.
But, perhaps more importantly at the time, the pedophile in question had met his victims while online gaming. Specifically while playing Runescape.
Following publication of the story, Tony who, as usual, was enjoying his nightly game of Runescape found himself inundated with hate messages in his chat room.
Suddenly, he was being called a child molester. Users were threatening to "dox" him and make his personal information, such as his address, real name and telephone number public. A literal angry mob had formed in the thousands.
Perplexed and dismayed, Tony tried to carry on with his game but was ultimately reduced to tears and signed off.
Finally, someone took a breath and dug a little deeper.
YouTube user Scarce noticed that the convicted pedophile in question didn't really look like Tony.
(VIDEO may be NSFW - Language)
He also found that the child predator Tony was being likened to was still in jail.
It wasn't Tony after all.
No. Tony was just a kind, older man that enjoyed playing games. He got a kick out of chatting with his younger viewers and fellow gamers.
That was all.
But the damage had been done.
In today's lightning fast world of news travels fast and facts are rarely checked, an innocent man had been branded.
Following the rebuttal by Scarce, Drama Alert swerved into damage control, recounting their accusation and even going so far as to offer Tony "damages" of up to $1000.
Despite living on a fixed income, Tony refused the offer.
All of this transpired in a matter of hours and the story quickly went viral.
By Saturday morning (01/09/16), Tony's story of whirlwind conviction and redemption had made the front page of Reddit.
This afternoon, the once-popular gamer gossip YouTube channel, Drama Alert and its Editor in Chief, Keemstar, previously known only to a small subculture, found itself the very subject of an internet flame war.
It was losing YouTube subscribers and Twitter followers en masse.
Tony, on the other hand, finds himself swarmed with new followers and well-wishers on his own channel, many of whom are not gamers at all but have merely watched his real-life drama unfold online.
A happy ending? Perhaps.
Nevertheless, it is a cautionary tale that speaks to the present state of click-bait "journalism".
Facts are still important.
Had it not been for Scarce, Tony might still be bullied, wrongly-accused and robbed of his hobby.
UPDATE: Tony has received mad-love from both the gaming community and the general populace. In fact, his chat channel has been overwhelmed with more than 11K friends online at once. For the record, Tony doesn't care about all that. In fact, he can't keep up with all of the new fans chatting at him. He just wants to play his game. While he appreciates everyone's support, he'd rather just go back to trading and collecting gold in Runescape.