December 13, 2017
The Washington Redhawks?
Those who actually fell for it were duped by an elaborate online hoax carried out by a group of Native American activists on Wednesday.
The group created several fake websites – including one that mimicked the Redskins' official webpage – that soon circulated the internet, saying Washington Redskins Owner Dan Snyder had announced his team's controversial nickname would be changed to the "Redhawks."
There's an elaborate hoax going around about the Washington Redskins changing their name to the Redhawks. Someone made fake WaPo, ESPN, SI and Bleacher Report pages for it (the urls are all wrong) pic.twitter.com/KoadRYdwjX— Eric Morrow (@morroweric) December 13, 2017
Native advocates launched a viral campaign today, reporting that the Washington Redskins had changed their name to the #Redhawks: "We created this action to show the NFL and the Washington Football franchise how easy, popular and powerful changing the name could be” pic.twitter.com/7DO0kzXDp0— The Real News (@TheRealNews) December 13, 2017
It didn't take long for the troll job to cause an internet and social media frenzy.
whoever made that Redhawks site did a great job. they took the time to make fake WaPo, ESPN, and SI links. check the urls - none of them are "normal" for those sites.— Terence (@TOPolk) December 13, 2017
I'm kind of impressed with this elaborate series of fake sites announcing the (fake) "Washington Redhawks" name change https://t.co/NH3awUwgqghttps://t.co/8gJr1mSjF6https://t.co/4dxAK4aXJs #GoRedHawks— Laura Deal (@lauradeal) December 13, 2017
That font for the name is terrible though pic.twitter.com/pqxahkQUlQ
The debate over the name, which opponents see as offensive to Native Americans, had quieted since the Department of Justice gave up its legal fight over the issue in June.
“The point of this was to start the conversation again,” Sebastian Medina-Tayac, one of the organizers of the stunt, told the Washington Post. “This is an issue that comes up very dramatically. People really care about it and then something else hits the news cycle or the team does some PR gymnastics and sort of squirms their way out of facing it head on. We wanted to make it immediate and urgent by allowing people to imagine a world where that mascot is gone, the name is changed and see how people react to it.”
The group, named Rising Hearts, is composed of members of several tribes, the Washington Post reported. The activists spread their own version of "fake news" with a Twitter account and pages that resembled the news sites of ESPN, the Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report.
The group then posted a press release to the "Washington Redhawks" Twitter account it had created, stating that it wanted to show the NFL and the Redskins "how easy, popular and powerful changing the name could be."
"After decades of team owner Dan Snyder refusing to change the name of the Washington football team, Native advocates took to the internet to do it for him," the group stated.
Official Statement on #GoRedhawks campaign by Native advocates. "We created this action to show the NFL and the Washington Football franchise how easy, popular and powerful changing the name could be." https://t.co/WBlk1WRR6n pic.twitter.com/M7uMBbbw7V— Washington Redhawks (@redhawksdc) December 13, 2017
The hoax caused enough of an internet stir to prompt a statement from the Redskins, which denounced the stunt and asserted that its team name "is the Washington Redskins and will remain that for the future."