More Harm Than Fun?
In the wake of Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend, I thought it apropos to take a look back at some of the most well-known fake social media accounts to date. Social media cannot only make Osama Bin Laden come back from the dead, but it also has the power to expose made-up significant others to the entire world.
Just one hour from ago (from the time of writing this feature), the fake Twitter account of Lennay Kay (Mr. Te’o’s fake girlfriend) tweeted that the Notre Dame football player had nothing to do with the scam. Allegedly Mr. Te’o had never even met this woman in real life but felt so wrong for falling in love with someone over the phone and via text that he lied about having seen her. “Lennay Kay” faked her death to escape from drug dealers. The plot thickens.
Fake social media accounts aren’t always bad. There are times when these accounts can be created in the wake of a tragedy to shed a little humor on the event, or there are times when they truly are devastating to many people who become involved with this identity. The lines between online and real life can be hard to identify since we spend so much of our lives online.
Below are 5 of the funny, the bad and the ugly fake social media accounts:
The Ghost of Osama
Twelve hours after its creation, the @GhostOsama Twitter account had already gained over 35,000 followers. It called out Fox News’ gaff at the typo from Osama to Obama, demanded a death certificate and poked fun at hobnobbing with Hitler and Napoleon and that there were no virgins in hell. Although he hasn’t tweeted since September 11th, he took a place in history as one of the most topical Twitter parodies yet.
Drunk Diane Sawyer
This account really hit its peak during election time when ‘Drunk Diane Sawyer’ spewed brilliant lines like, “hey guys wh o won i fell aslee?p” and “99 bottles of beer on the wall 99 bottles of beer.” The account has since been suspended, but others have since opened in its wake with less popular accolade. In real life, her verbatim wasn’t much better: “I wanna — can we have our music, because this is another big one here?” Sawyer said, going on to call President Obama, “Orama.” So one can’t blame Twitter users for getting a kick out of making fun of one of the world’s most famous broadcasters.
On a bit more somber note and going back a few more years when blogging first started taking off, this blogger took a fake identity way too far. Online this person was a teenager diagnosed with terminal Leukemia and was reported to have died in May of 2001 after recounting her trials and tribulations of the disease. In reality, this woman was named Debbie Swenson and was a 40-year-old mother.
It was actually her daughter who initially created the fake identity. But rather than shut down the operation, Ms. Swenson elaborated on it, and recounted in vivid details the struggles that came with battling Leukemia. She confessed to her story after the community who followed the blog started investigating. Debbie has since been diagnosed with Münchausen by Internet.
The elections were a heated time. The Democrats pulled out all the stops with backings from stars such as Eva Longoria, Bill Clinton, and Warren Buffet, and the Republicans had…well, Clint Eastwood. It seemed like a brilliant move until he took the stage and addressed an invisible chair that he called Obama for his entire speech. Twitter history was created immediately, and the @InvisibleObama account had over 50,000 followers in less than 12 hours. It was briefly suspended but still continues to tweet on Invisible Obama’s behalf.
The Dirr Family
Following Kaycee Nicole, it seems hard to imagine that fake bloggers depicting themselves as Cancer victims could actually still make it. But this one did, and it lasted for nearly a decade. This time the hoax was started originally by an 11-year old girl who had a lot of time on her hands. Unfortunately, by the time the truth was unraveled, she was 22 years old and it was no longer considered child’s play. She managed to craft a story not only about an entire family, but about a child dying of cancer and a wife pregnant with child who died in a car crash.
Online crusaders dove deep and found out that all the pictures of the family were stolen from various Facebook accounts. A commenter on an article in Gawker last summer wrote, “Hi, I’m Taryn Wright and I wrote the blog exposing the Warrior Eli hoax. Hundreds of people from all over the world did research on it, sending in screen shots, emails and theories. It really was a worldwide effort.” It took a while, but she was found out.
And why shouldn’t we end on a fetus joke? The Royal Fetus is the most hailed and celebrated of all fetus’ to have existed in probably this century. Current Twitter accounts depicting what life is like inside the Royal womb are @RoyalFoetus, @Royal_Fetus, @IamRoyalBaby, @UnbornRoyal and @HRHBaby. Check out some of these highlights:
What do you think of fake social media accounts? Is there any entertainment value or do they end up doing more harm than entertaining?