HBO’s latest high-powered drama, Game of Thrones, is a big hit on the often-geeky link-sharing site Reddit. Based on George R.R. Martin’s popular fantasy epic A Song of Ice Fire, the show is a byzantine pseudo-medieval character drama and political thriller spanning across two continents. The show’s subreddit, or subsection on the site, has over 7,000 subscribers and posts there routinely receive hundreds of comments.
So when Emilia Clarke, the young British actress who plays Daenerys Targaryen on the series, offered to do a Q&A (or AMA -- “ask me anything” in the site’s own lingo) on Reddit, it was a veritable geekgasm.
Besides the show’s presence, Redditors had already created a subreddit devoted entirely to the actress, complete with a heart-infused custom logo and a giant picture of the actress’s face emblazoned on the background.
Except, like a lot of things on the Internet, people (and especially celebrities) aren’t always as they seem.
“The Emilia Clarke AMA is fake,” wrote moderator nitrousconsumed shortly after deleting the thread. “Thanks to those who let us know, and my bad for verifying.”
So how did it happen?
Reddit’s Q&A subreddit, IAmA (“I am a”) actually has a pretty robust system for making sure interview subjects are who they say they are. Moderators usually ask celebrities to post some kind of verification to their personal website or Twitter feed.
And even ordinary people are often asked to provide some kind of proof of identity: a check stub or tax return to prove employment, or medical documents if someone claims to have a particular medical condition, according to nitrousconsumed, the IamA moderator.
This time, the person who faked Emilia Clarke provided an image of an EU license digitally manipulated with a picture of the actress. That was enough to trick the moderators, who marked the IAmA as officially confirmed (nitrousconsumed did not respond to a request for further clarification on the forgery).
But as is often the case, Reddit’s popularity proved a boon: the thread became so big so fast it spread to Twitter, where the official Game of Thrones account quickly debunked it.
The post was immediately removed and nitrousconsumed posted a mea culpa: “It was unfortunate, and it seems I got a bit too excited about the verification.”
So is there any chance the real Emilia Clarke will conduct a real IAmA?
“Well according to the mail we got her publicist says that ‘She is a very private person and is not active on social networking sites.’” nitrousconsumed wrote in the thread. “I'm going to take that as a no.”