You lied and now Twitter has found out!
May 27, 2012 8:01 AM   Subscribe

I recently became enthralled with the unfolding Twitter saga of the larcenous wedding photographer. So now I'm wondering how many similar stories have happened without me realizing; not just the big stories like Anthony Weiner, the Li Gong incident and Cook Source, but more low-key incidents that I might not have heard about where people were lying, cheating, or were just plain wrong and were discovered through social media. The human flesh search engine and Internet vigilantism articles on Wikipedia have some famous examples, but does anyone know about more obscure stuff? Thanks!
posted by jihaan to Computers & Internet (28 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Back in 2009 there was a "savejon" twitter campaign to help a graphic designer who was being unfairly sued by a big stock art company, but eventually bloggers figured out that he actually did use the stock art graphics without permission and there was a backlash.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:19 AM on May 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

I think at this point it's kinda played because there are so many of them. A few years ago I had someone email me saying something like "I just wanted to warn you, I'm writing a book that uses your single word domain name I use for a blog that's been around since '98, and this means you may have to give it to me". I wrote him back a nice message that said something like "Uh, asshole, I think you misunderstand how trademark law works", and posted the reply and response to my blog.

Of course my readers, all tens of them, then went on a witch hunt to dig up as much as they could about this guy and put it in the comments thread, which meant that about a year later this guy went ego-surfing sent me a really contrite "oh, wow, I fucked up and could we do a little damage control, please?" message.

(Actually, it was a little disingenuous and annoying, but I'm willing to forgive people their sins a bit, so I asked the most detailed posters to revise their posts a little. Never mind that you can still get to the comment history with an additional click, at least the history isn't Google searchable.)

But I'd bet that pretty much anyone who's had some sort of web presence since the '90s has had several of that type of similar run-in, from "Oh, hai, I misappropriated your copyrighted work", to bogus DMCA notices, to bogus (pre-emptive?!?!) trademark infringement claims, and at this point yet another idiot self-destructing on Twitter warrants little more than an eye roll.
posted by straw at 8:26 AM on May 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

The MsScribe Story, while taking place in a very narrow internet neighborhood (Harry Potter fandom) is an extremely thoroughly researched tale of a crazy woman who pretended to be her own fans, and later trolls, for fun and profit. It's long and quite gripping.
posted by chaiminda at 8:36 AM on May 27, 2012 [5 favorites]

What's the larcenous wedding photographer incident?
posted by Mercaptan at 9:06 AM on May 27, 2012 [6 favorites]

Have you heard of Kaycee Nicole? Metafilter broke that one. (Damned near choked the server for a couple of days there, what with all the excess traffic of people reloading the threads in question.)

Godspeed, Kaycee Nicole
Is it possible that Kaycee did not exist?
The Plot Sickens
And so it ends.
The Kaycee Nicole (Swensen) Faq
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:06 AM on May 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

What's the larcenous wedding photographer saga?
posted by goshling at 9:22 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The larcenous wedding photographer saga.
posted by jihaan at 9:40 AM on May 27, 2012

For the curious:
Metafilter on Cooks Source
Anthony Wiener scandal (boyish tittering)
Li Gong incident
Human flesh search engine, wrongly (IMO) claimed to primarily be a Chinese phenomenon.
No luck finding the "larcenous wedding photographer" scandal.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:49 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Janna St. James saga. Thread from the blue.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:14 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

There was a "photographer" who did a Groupon promotion, using other photographers' photos as examples on her website, and offering a physically and economically impossible number of appointments. That was exposed and unraveled right on Groupon comments in real time that day.

Here's the Techcrunch article about the mess including links to screen caps. Text dump of most comments live that day on Groupon. The actual Groupon comments page still exists, but Groupon deleted the nastiest comments.
posted by caclwmr4 at 10:23 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Caclwmr4, that is not the same incident that the OP was referring to. Read the article that he/she linked to. Although the Groupon one was certainly an interesting one too.
posted by dave*p at 10:33 AM on May 27, 2012

This was nothing major - the fraudster in question never extorted anyone for his own benefit as far as I know - but it did start on Metafilter and was eventually busted on same. For whatever reason, a well-liked blogger posted a dramatic series of stories of his battle with MRSA after walking face-first into a door. The infection spread, he lost an eye, and then his family took over posting when he "died." A few years after his "death" the perp couldn't resist posting on alumni websites from his old schools and Navy assignment. MeFites caught him in the act. (Hopefully this isn't considered self-linkage; I was just one of several alert MeFites on Blitz Krieg's trail.)
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:35 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might enjoy Fake LJ Deaths.
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:48 AM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Check out You Thought We Wouldn't Notice for a number of stories along these lines from the world of online art and graphic design.
posted by limeonaire at 10:50 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nicole White claimed that "TSA Agents Took My Son!" After posting this melodramatic piece, White then moved onto Twitter, where she posted a link to her story and encouraged others to retweet it. She also encouraged people to protest to the TSA, and forward any media contacts to her that were interested in her story.

The mommy-blogosphere reacted as one would expect, and soon White's tale was posted to some of the biggest social media sites online, including Metafilter, Reddit, and Fark. And according to, it almost made

Then the TSA responded by posting the security video of the incident.

White's non-apology and statement where she takes ownership are here and here.

Metafilter thread here.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:00 PM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

There are several relatively tiny ones I have encountered through the years - mostly involving 12-year-olds pretending to be 17, kids in boring places in the US turning out to be not refugees with horrific pasts, etc. It seems to me that it's actually incredibly common - what's not common is enough people being familiar enough with the original lie for it to be a big deal when the reveal is made.

I mean, there's a reason most sites like Flickr have a relatively easy, user-friendly way (i.e., not just what's required by the DMCA) to report someone for stealing your art.
posted by SMPA at 1:26 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Did you read MetaTalk within the last week? The faked suicide, and the aftermath? There's one that's close to home.
posted by to recite so charmingly at 2:40 PM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

There was that time when a vegan food magazine was caught using photos of actual meat.

And there was also the time when the Anthropologie blogger got called out for her bogus personal shopping service.
posted by kitty teeth at 7:07 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not too long ago, Claire's Accessories in the UK (aka Claire's Boutique in the U.S.) started selling some ugly-ass jewellery that was suspiciously similar to ugly-ass jewellery made by an indie designer called Tatty Devine. I think the story originally broke on a blog, but it was Twitter that drove the outrage.

(And OMG! I read the original post about that "suicide," but not being a regular MetaTalk reader, I had no idea it had turned out to be fake.)
posted by Perodicticus potto at 8:12 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's the ongoing all craft media weirdness in the knitting world...
posted by Wylla at 1:19 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was just about to post about ACM as well! If you have access to Ravelry, there's a lot of stuff on there. There was a similar knitting controversy a few years back centreing around the popular podcast Lime and Violet, but I can't find a coherent story on what happened.

There's been a similar story in the make-up world, but the creator still seems to be selling her wares through the upmarket store Space NK. So while a lot of bloggers have sworn off using the make-up, it's debatable whether it's had an effect outside the internet world.

It seems to be common amongst cult-of-personality people within particular interests.

(The Claire's one was interesting, as on the Tatty Devine blog entry the comments developed quickly into classism - some saying things like 'now all the chavs will be wearing it' - copyright infringement or no, not everyone is willing or able to fork out £90 for a plastic necklace.)
posted by mippy at 6:57 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Lime and violet thing was very complicated, but seemingly had to do with a messed-up yarn club and then the entire site and podcast and all related Ravelry forums disappearing, supposedly because one of the podcasters had gotten death threats. This blog seems to be the main place people point for details...but others may have different versions.

Thanks, to recite so charmingly, I had no idea that the entire fake-suicide thing had happened. Wow.
posted by Wylla at 10:51 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

last month a popular YA book blogger (possibly the most popular) was caught plagiarizing content from a fashion blog. more recent developments.
posted by changeling at 1:01 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Does it count if I found someone via reading this thread?

So, I read the thing about the wedding photog, and reading that reminded me that I should go play around with Tineye or with Google's image search. I plugged in one of my photos (one that gets used a lot by Craigslist sellers who are selling one of the items I photographed) and it found this page.

Scroll down to "Kitchens" and you see this picture as an example of their kitchen work.

Problem is... that's my (unfinished) kitchen and my photograph, and these folks had nothing whatsoever to do with it. (They are in CT and I am in WA.) The original image is here, and you can see that I have several other pictures in the photostream to show context -- it's definitely my kitchen. :)

It's an out and out lie by the contractors -- the page says "Here are some examples of our finish work" and then uses my image of a kitchen they have had nothing to do with.

(Disclaimer -- I found this a few months ago but didn't have time to deal with it then and then I forgot about it -- so this thread got me searching my images and I found it again. So it's been up for a while.)

I notice the site's front page says "References available upon request.
It is because we respect our clients privacy that we do not publish customer names on our website." ...Aaaaaand because at least one of those clients does not exist?

Anyway, here's one that's more obscure. But I haven't taken it to Twitter yet.
posted by litlnemo at 1:53 PM on May 28, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: You know litlnemo, I noticed that another contracting company has this supposed Michener detailing is listed as their work. They are located in Connecticut so maybe they worked together. However, they do have Rose Construction listed as the general contractor they worked with so it's possible it's another lift.
posted by jihaan at 2:54 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, yes, there was Regretsy and EcologicaMalibu recently.
posted by mippy at 1:37 AM on May 29, 2012

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