The Australian media have been backpedalling this morning after reporting Tasmanian cricketer James Faulkner was gay, basing their articles on a “joke” in an Instagram caption. Apparently without seeking any confirmation from Faulkner, news outlets including the ABC wrote up stories applauding Faulkner for being the first male Australian cricketer to come out as gay.
They were prompted by a photo Faulkner posted of himself with his mum and friend Rob Judd, describing Judd as his “boyfriend” (later updated to add “best mate!!!”). Faulkner had also included a hashtag saying “#togetherforfiveyears” and red heart emojis.
Cricketers, other sporting celebrities and fans had all commented on the post with congratulations. But since posting the photo on Monday evening, Faulkner has confirmed that he is not gay, and the caption was just a joke that had been misinterpreted.
The news was trending on Twitter in Sydney, and the ABC, Guardian, Fox Sports, and other News Corp tabloids had all published stories about the revelation before Cricket Australia clarified the the caption was a “joke”.
Even almost an hour after Cricket Australia had put out its statement this morning, the majority of results on Google’s news search engine had headlines still reporting that Faulkner had come out.
None of the updated reports Crikey saw this morning identified that their earlier stories had reported the news as fact, mostly rewriting their first couple of paragraphs and leaving the rest of the article.
Faulkner is expected to address the mix-up with a statement later today.