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Who is Veronika Larsson?
October 21, 2013 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Where a journalist tries to identify TheIneffableSwede, an online commenter on the Guardian website and elsewhere online. A journalist from the Guardian adds more context.
posted by Wordshore (45 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
The problem is, anyone who exposes Ineffable’s real identity will probably get their arse sued-off.

Why?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:34 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's probably Michael Brutsch
posted by Dr. Twist at 2:43 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit bewildered here. I thought sock-puppet accounts were pretty commonplace. Even though the creator of this one got a little more elaborate than most, I still fail to see the significance of all of this.

I feel like I must have missed a crucial plot point in the narrative.
posted by svenni at 2:56 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


svenni: "I'm a bit bewildered here. I thought sock-puppet accounts were pretty commonplace. Even though the creator of this one got a little more elaborate than most, I still fail to see the significance of all of this.

I feel like I must have missed a crucial plot point in the narrative.
"

I am afraid I stand with you on this one. What good is the revelation of a hidden identity without revealing the hidden person?

Why should I even really care about the whole thing at all?

Enquiring minds want to know!

(Seriously, there, journalism dude, tell me enough to know what the deal is! Don't wuss out at the climax!)
posted by Samizdata at 3:00 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe he's telling it differently just for narrative effect. But after his initial research he appeared to have on his hands a prolific internet commenter who is young and gorgeous, who displays ornate markers of intelligence (five languages! prestigious schools!), and who has a seemingly endless string of anecdotes that (a) are relevant to whatever article she's commenting on and (b) totally happened to her or a relative of hers.

Not until thirteen paragraphs later does he say: "It was hereabouts the first oddities appeared." No, dude, go back a bit. If that was the first point at which he honestly started to doubt that this person was real, then he's quite possibly new to this whole typing-on-the-internet thing.

And, yeah, like the commenters above me, I fail to see why this one not-person deserves this much research. It's a good deed to track down the person depicted in the photos to let them know what's happening to them, but I doubt that was the intended goal of all the sleuthing.
posted by savetheclocktower at 3:06 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't understand how this is relevant. To, you know, anything.

A commenter on the internet isn't the person who they say they are? OK! They leave a lot of comments about stuff on a left-wing paper? OK! You know who they are but you can't say? Well, OK...

Perhaps sock puppets are a big deal in Sweden.
posted by The River Ivel at 3:06 PM on October 21, 2013


Sock puppets are always a big deal.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:09 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


My bet is that she's really this Richard Cox fellow whose book is promoted in the article, and that Richard Cox (like that's a real person's real name) is really Jack Werner, the author of the article.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:11 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Veronika Larsson -> Valentine Wiggin
posted by chimaera at 3:20 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


We are all Veronika Larsson.

By "we", I mean my cat and I.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 3:30 PM on October 21, 2013


The cat started it.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 3:30 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is all very anticlimactic, and I'm a little annoyed by how much they're plastering the photos of some girl from Orange County all over the place, now that they know she is a separate person.
posted by JauntyFedora at 3:40 PM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I blame "Karl"
posted by chavenet at 3:43 PM on October 21, 2013


Well gee, what's next? Maybe doing the usual internet stalker thing and publishing her street address and phone number? Possibly along with a helpful Google Street View? That's the usual procedure in cases like this, right?
posted by happyroach at 3:44 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The sockpuppet is coming from inside the drawer!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:46 PM on October 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


The thing I do find kind of interesting here is that the answer to the question "why" is often for money or sympathy or skeevy pictures or something. In this case it seems like the answer might be "wish fulfillment" or "hobby" or "because I damn well feel like it", but that's different than the usual narrative of con artist or over-the-top attention seeking. This seems like someone producing genuinely interesting and thoughtful comments that for some reason they feel a need to divorce from their actual identity. Why? Do they have a real-life reputation to maintain? Do they just really wish they were gorgeous and well-educated as well as being smart? Do they think it's funny? I'd like to have an answer to this and I don't get one from the article, but I still think it actually is an interesting variation on an expected narrative.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:46 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


The volume is pretty impressive.
Maybe more than one person.
posted by adamvasco at 4:01 PM on October 21, 2013


Maybe more than one person.
It's the terrifying end product of the Scandinavian social model - a Borg borg mind, if you will.
posted by Abiezer at 4:08 PM on October 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Does anybody else think it's hilarious that the only comment on the Guardian article is from Tiffany Olson (ID theft "victim" if you didn't RTFA).


Tiffany Olson
The last part of this article is full of shit. You better be careful what you post using my pictures.


Sounds like she's getting ready for her big reality television debut.
posted by keep_evolving at 4:13 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


But after his initial research he appeared to have on his hands a prolific internet commenter who is young and gorgeous, who displays ornate markers of intelligence (five languages! prestigious schools!), and who has a seemingly endless string of anecdotes that (a) are relevant to whatever article she's commenting on and (b) totally happened to her or a relative of hers.

Setting aside the "young and gorgeous" part (since those aren't really traits one can generally detect on Mefi) the rest of this comment could describe a couple prolific and well-loved commenters here.
posted by muddgirl at 4:17 PM on October 21, 2013


Young at heart and gorgeous of spirit, maybe.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:23 PM on October 21, 2013


Why isn't this guy revealing her identity?

The only conceivable importance to this story is if the IneffableSwede is a Big Deal. Otherwise this is just someone pretending to be someone on the internet. Seriously?
posted by snarfles at 4:25 PM on October 21, 2013


It was an email address Richard had never seen before, but after some google searches he came to a Flickr-account where Veronika’s “dead mother” was pictured – clearly alive and well.
It's like the script from some particularly shittily-written Murder She Wrote ripoff's worst episode.
posted by xqwzts at 4:34 PM on October 21, 2013


It's kind of bizarre that Tiffany Olson had her photos "stolen" like that, by a person who reused them to make a new identity. In this age of information wanting to be free it's hard sometimes to define the definition of theft, but I think this probably qualifies.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:50 PM on October 21, 2013


"define the definition" Hoo boy.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:58 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not me. I swear.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:05 PM on October 21, 2013


"I tried to identify an anonymous poster. I failed. Here's a long, drawn out article with no point or resolution!"
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:20 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clearly, it's Plain Layne.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 6:05 PM on October 21, 2013


Given that some of her commentary and posts were reported and eventually became news in and of themselves and that she(?) apparently put some effort into wrecking someone's previously popular blog, I'd say that's a pretty crucial plot point.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:43 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


So it appears that the author hasn't actually given up looking for the person in question. He's been continuing to update his blog here (Swedish, you'll have to use google translate)
posted by JauntyFedora at 6:46 PM on October 21, 2013


Okay. it's me.
posted by Samizdata at 6:57 PM on October 21, 2013


Horse_eblondes
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:22 PM on October 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


I agree that the tone of the first article is a little naive but, hold on, it's still doing a somewhat valuable service. Until you actually see a person on video or hear them on the phone, they do not exist. Do not believe internet commenters telling you fables about their lives people. Especially in 0-entry-bar comment sections. People who do this, especially guys who pretend to be women, are poisoning the well of internet discussion.

Anyway, the sun is going down here in Fiji, so I'd better get back to my castle of crab shells. Come Beatrice, let's take the jet ski VROOOOOM
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:28 PM on October 21, 2013


I'm yoah dwin brodda Choolius.
posted by Mister_A at 7:47 PM on October 21, 2013


The dumbest part is that at least two people know who 'she' is - 'Veronika' and one other person (Richard Cox? J. Werner?).

So it's a big, stupid tease. Verbose commenter has faked lots of personal details and... uh... exactly what happened with the blog is not clear. Anyone know of this 'Swede' in the wild?

I sort of kind of feel like that one guy wrote that one novel already. Maybe I'll go read that, 'cause this is kind of lacking a little punch
posted by From Bklyn at 12:04 AM on October 22, 2013


This is strange. But interesting.

-The blog of the guardian journalist more than strongly suggests that he knows who it is, but is somehow afraid to spill the beans.

-The Swedish journalist writes that he is still pursuing the case, as it were.

I'm Norwegian, but to me it sounds like the recording of her—whoever she is—has a Swedish lilt to it.

Why someone would put this much time into sharing their thoughts (where factual) and anecdotes (where fictional) is beyond my understanding. From what both journalists have written about this person, she (or he?) seems brilliantly capable of being their own person: the extraneous details are just seasoning for that particular pot, not the meat of it—her interactions with blog writers and commenters were predicated predominantly on the content of her comments, not her mystique.

In fact, the choice of a 23-year-old Swedish bombshell as an avatar seems oddly out of character; you'd almost expect something more exotic, more intricate.

Her time could've been spent much more fruitfully in honest discourse, which is the main reason this is so fascinating. Why?
posted by flippant at 12:23 AM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


The bit about the CEO cutting her off because of “the nagging about this problem” and the subsequent “Sexism and abuse isn't only on Twitter: one woman’s gaming experience” article were probably like pure cocaine for whoever this was.

They're making it sound like they believe that she actually held all the views she was espousing, but given the inevitable and eventual shit storm when this all finally broke, I'm kind of wondering if there isn't some sort of false flag bullshit at work here.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:41 AM on October 22, 2013


In that gaming comment, TheIneffableSwede, whoever they are, says "Before I was banned, one of the game operators, an employee of the company, released my real life details (full legal name, physical address, email, telephone number, link to my social media such as Facebook, etc.) to thousands of other players (I had given this information when I registered for the game) and encouraged people to harass me outside the game..."

MMORPG players, does any game you've heard of actually collect that level of personal info on players? Or did any? Because I can't imagine that.

Anyway, my cynical side says that neither the reporter or the novelist would have been so super keen spend so much time and effort to track down this person if they hadn't presented as a beautiful young woman. For the reporter, especially, it seems that for a story about misogyny in gaming, one would contact the person via one of the places they post and ask if they could interview them, and if they said "no," that would be that. You'd ask them to say which game, at least, and if they wouldn't even share that info, you'd feel like they were probably exaggerating or lying about the specific incident. So, you move on and find other people to talk to; it's not as though it's like looking for a needle in a haystack to find someone with similar experiences to interview for such an article.

But in this case, the original story was tossed in favor of finding out the real life details of an anon poster, which, what? Isn't that precisely the kind of thing s/he was describing in the comment (true or false)? Weird. Of course, yes, once they managed to find out that the person had stolen someone else's physical identity, it became an interesting story on its own, but up to that point they were just trying to dox someone, apparently against their will... unless I'm missing something here?
posted by taz at 1:09 AM on October 22, 2013


Yeah to me this reads like a reporter that found a way to get paid for facebook stalking.
posted by empath at 1:47 AM on October 22, 2013


MMORPG players, does any game you've heard of actually collect that level of personal info on players? Or did any? Because I can't imagine that.

Most of the information described would be in a user's billing information if they're paying by credit card. Things like links to social media, there are games that will tweet for you or post to your Facebook page for you if you give them permission, and others that use Twitter or Facebook as a login system. So it's theoretically possible, yes.
posted by Hogshead at 3:59 AM on October 22, 2013


So “friend someone on Facebook and then siphon their pictures for use in a sockpuppet identity” is the internet-age equivalent of “find someone born in the same year as you who died in infancy and order their birth certificate”?
posted by acb at 4:29 AM on October 22, 2013


I've never seen that level of connectivity outside of a Facebook Game. I do know there was a lot of outrage (much of it right on target) when WoW tried to be all real namey and none of the games I've been involved with have ever had this level of access to the rest of my online presence outside of spamming the hell out of my e-mail when I stopped playing begging me to come back like a clingy ex.

What really seems odd to me, though, is the phrase, "When I played and won, which I almost always did." In most MMORPGs, victory usually has less to do with the inherent skill a player might have and more to do with how many levels they've ground and what special chase items they've managed to acquire - particularly in the older games. The implication to a non-gamer is that TheIneffableSwede was very good at whatever it was she was doing. To me, that suggests that what she was actually playing was not an MMORPGs at all but something more like first person shooters (Call of Duty), or some sort of real time (Star Craft) or turn based (XCom) strategy game. But wait, she was the one using the term MMORPG in the first place, makes me wonder if she knows that WSAD is not an acronym. Now it's possible (Gemmy, this is the question you were born to answer!) that in Sweden MMORPG has just become a catchall term for computer games (and I'm barking up the wrong tree). There's also a less charitable implication that I'm sure some of you can figure out.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:46 AM on October 22, 2013


The Swedish journalist found some in-character videos from Second Life, which is an MMORPG that has wildly different metrics in terms of 'being good' at it, fwiw.
posted by flippant at 6:50 AM on October 22, 2013


I've not played so I have to ask, are there a lot of cases where you would claim to have won an encounter in Second Life? I was mostly under the impression that it was a sort of build-em-up without a lot of direct conflict.

Something I found that was kind of heartening in all this - folk on the Gaming-Age Forum opinions seem to be pretty well summarized with "What the actual fuck" re: her personal details being released by the company and the CEO having her banned rather than deal with her complaints. And this is what annoys me about all this the most - if you want to make up an on line persona and spout your little stories about the Green Bay Packers and your first Beastie Boys CD that's all on you. But this is a real issue that really affects real people. When you post a story like this that kind of demands outrage and then it turns out that everything about you is a lie and that the story is an anonymized assemblage of other women's experiences (or whatever "artists statement" you fall back on when you're finally, inevitably caught passing off made up bullshit as your personal experience) you're kind of shanking the people who suffering from and/or fighting against these problems squarely in the back.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:24 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, an update. Got an email today from a new MetaFilter user who appears to be the journalist, linking to his new article, thus:

* * * * *

Hi!

Just wanted to let you know that story about Veronika Larsson, the faker, has now been updated with the guy who's probably behind it all: http://www.metro.se/nyheter/veronika-the-end-of-the-story/EVHmka!S1fbi5Dls0cQ/

All the best, J
posted by Wordshore at 12:44 PM on November 4, 2013


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