On Reddit, no one knows you’re a dog. An “ask me anything” request for a police officer assigned to work at Occupy Wall Street made it to the front page of that popular subreddit and last night, someone using the handle “nypdcop” came forward to answer it. Woohoo! The user even gave the incendiary answers protest-sympathetic Redditors were thirsting for: “I have seen a lot of questionable police tactics while working these protests and just everyday of the job. It’s just more people are here filming so it’s getting published more. This kind of stuff happens everyday. IE: The pepper spraying incident, etc.”
But, not so fast. The person purporting to be a member of the NYPD failed quickly to provide proof and users started to smell something fishy. Reddit’s AMA section has been many times the province of imposters. Usually posters are required to submit some kind of proof or be verified by a moderator. We asked community manager Erik Martin if he thought the post was legit; he was appropriately skeptical. “No evidence that it is. I’d doubt it personally but who knows,” he wrote in an email.
Mr. Martin’s instincts turned out to be correct. After leading Redditors on for a bit–“I don’t have photoshop or anything so I have to use paint and I’m trying to figure out how to get [proof] from my phone to my computer”–nypdcop copped to the ploy. “I was trying to prove to people that most AMA’s are fake. Even when they get on the frontpage,” he or she wrote. “I was hoping to show how people will believe in anything on here. I got to the frontpage in an hour for just saying that. And the picture is supposed to be a joke anyways. so when people click it they are like, ‘oh what a troll.'”
“I don’t understand why people go through the effort [of faking an AMA],” another Redditor sighed.