Joffrey Lupul Twitter Scandal: A Social Media Lesson

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Jun 27, 2012 12:05 PM EDT
Thrown For a Lupul
Joffrey Lupul made news late Tuesday night thanks to a fan on Twitter."

Given what happened to Joffrey Lupul in the video below, it's fair to say that the Toronto Maple Leafs center can be forgiven a lapse in judgment or two (even if it did take place four years ago).

The same cannot be said, however, of Taylor Milligan, the "aspiring hockey writer and model" at the center of the scandal that Lupul found himself involved in Tuesday night.

A quick recap of the scandal: Milligan, a student at Allegheny County Community College who writes a blog entitled "A Womans [sic] Take On All Things Hockey," posted on her Twitter account (@princesss_sass) a conversation she purports to have had via direct message with Lupul. In the conversation, Lupul (@JLupul) is shown following Milligan on the popular social network, then inquiring about getting photos of Milligan. When informed by Milligan that photos cannot be sent via direct message, Lupul's account responds, "If I give u my email will u please, for the love of god, not show it to anyone?!?"

Milligan's post caught fire, and Lupul's name remains a trending topic on Twitter as of Wednesday morning, with some fans assuming that the conversation was fabricated, others suggesting that Lupul's behavior is hardly atypical of a young man in his 20s, and still others complaining loudly that the whole situation is even a story in the first place.

Milligan herself, meanwhile, took to her blog to address the situation.

"I was not intending on 'ruining a career' or anything like that," Milligan wrote. "You don't expect something like this to blow up....I wasn't expecting, or intending on destroying this man. I owe him an apology, as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs organization and their fans."

Milligan also addressed accusations of fabrication, professing herself to be ignorant in the use of Photoshop or other image manipulation software. In the end, however, whether the conversation was real or fabricated is a minor issue compared to Milligan's assertion that "you don't expect something like this to blow up."

The reality is that world of social media allows "news" stories and "scandals" - both real and fabricated - to spread like wildfire, as evidenced by any of countless celebrity death hoaxes (New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning being among the most recent), so the belief that a story involving a member of a heavily followed professional sports team and the exchange of racy photos would not draw attention is either naïve or dishonest.

In the end, the reality is that this will likely affect Joffrey Lupul very little, and certainly not ruin him. Lupul is not married, and in fact, is not publicly known to be in a romantic relationship of any kind. He's coming off the best season of his hockey career, played in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game, and was a finalist for the Masterton Trophy after coming back from a pair of back surgeries and a blood infection. His charity golf tournament in Edmonton - the 6th Annual Joffrey Lupul Charity Golf Classic - is sold out, and will raise thousands of dollars for North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper an Change for Children. If Lupul was, in fact, a party to this Twitter conversation with Milligan, the damage it will do to his career and reputation is minimal to the point of being insignificant.

It is, however, an instructive lesson on the power of social media, and just how quickly a story can take off.

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