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The Kaycee Nicole (Swensen) Faq
May 22, 2001 4:28 AM   Subscribe

The Kaycee Nicole (Swensen) Faq is now up as per request. If you haven't followed the whole Kaycee thing, you want to read this. You might want to read it anyway. Feedback welcome.
posted by bonzo (129 comments total)

 
From Inside.com's Inside Dope section: Webloggers cope with comrade's death, and then her denial.

Oh, is that what we were doing? (I love blanket generalizations, really I do)

By the way, although the article refers to MeFi as "the water cooler for the weblog community," it doesn't bother with either a link or an url. Bah.
posted by lia at 2:45 AM on May 22, 2001


There already a couple of stories at about.com
1
2
3

one at Silicon Valley

Nothing on the big news sites yet
posted by X-00 at 3:23 AM on May 22, 2001


By the way, I posted this by request of mathowie. I promise I will never ever ever post anything again about Kaycee Nicole to the front page :).
posted by bonzo at 4:36 AM on May 22, 2001


awesome job!
posted by centrs at 4:48 AM on May 22, 2001


the Part 3 title isn't bolded, but besides that, the FAQ is a great idea; hopefully this story will be reported accurately because of it.
posted by register at 4:58 AM on May 22, 2001


Very informative, to-the-point, and objective FAQ. I hope to see it referenced (or at the very least, utilized) as the Kaycee story "goes mainstream."

Thanks for doing this.
posted by kphaley454 at 5:16 AM on May 22, 2001


I was under the impression that the last name was "Swenson" with an 'o' and not "Swensen"
posted by gyc at 5:17 AM on May 22, 2001


A couple of mis-spellings you ought to fix right quick: it's Swenson, not Swensen; and it's Randall, not Randell. Halcyon should probably be in quotes. Your account contains a couple of leaps of faith but generally conforms to the timeline.

Reported accurately? Register, you silly-eyed optimist, you.
posted by dhartung at 5:19 AM on May 22, 2001


A very interesting account. I'm impressed by the investigative abilities of those who tracked down the facts. Maybe this will make future hoaxers a little more leery of attempting to fool others.
posted by CRS at 5:25 AM on May 22, 2001


I wonder if a plain listing of the "facts" actually tells the whole story. From the perspective of what seems to be most of us here at MeFi - at least, as evidenced by the threads over the past few days - "Kaycee Nicole" didn't exist for the vast majority of us until the outing process started, and we didn't really care about her, since we'd invested nothing to start with. What was - and is - fascinating enough to catch our concentrated attention? The evolving reactions and emotions of the group as the melodrama unfolded. You've done an admirable job of recapping the "facts" of the Swensons' activities over the past few years, but as I said, there's a larger context that just as - if not more - interesting.
posted by m.polo at 5:35 AM on May 22, 2001


Nice work - a quick typo for you. You've got one instance of "stricking" which I guess should be "striking".

Also I'd be careful to excise any use of the first person - I spotted a "we" which I think alters the tone of the piece. IMHO, the FAQ works better if it appears to be written totally objectively - which is not to question the quality of the precis.... I just felt it jarred a little.

Other than that, a pretty good summary - looking forward to seeing how this is reported.
posted by aeolian at 5:53 AM on May 22, 2001


You've done an admirable job of recapping the "facts" of the Swensons' activities over the past few years, but as I said, there's a larger context that just as - if not more - interesting.

Indeed. Is there a sociologist in the house?
posted by ChrisTN at 5:54 AM on May 22, 2001


Yawn.

Gee, is this the first time anyone's ever been scammed by someone pretending to be someone they're not online??

Gee, is this the first time people have been hurt in all of human history by another person's lies and/or deceit?

I totally am missing what the big deal is on this. That we need a public outpouring of angst and investigation into the who, what, and where until every detail is exposed.

Suddenly everyone's an investigative reporter.

Oh, ok. Yeah, this is fun.
posted by yarf at 6:10 AM on May 22, 2001


It's amazing how much people will STILL pass hoax emails, even after the number of times I've given them the About hoax website.

I'm still getting the 'congress to tax email' emails. Or the 'Save Big Bird' Or the 'Protect Women's Rights in Afgansistan.' Gee, those Taleban never did listen to my emails...
posted by brucec at 6:21 AM on May 22, 2001


People have been asking what the next AYBABTU was going to be. I guess you have your answer.

As of this morning, I have joined the ranks of those who feel sick to their stomachs. Until now, for me this has mostly been an intellectual puzzle, since I was not involved in it until last Friday. But this morning's revelations caught me out of the blue. I didn't think there were going to be any more surprises, so learning that the daughter had started it was a shock. Also, I'm feeling a lot of sympathy for Julie; for her this has to be like having Rod Serling walk out of her closet and start talking to an unseen camera.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Audra Lea for my suggestion that she might have been the source behind the Kaycee pictures. It was an honest mistake, and I hope I didn't cause her too much grief with it. It was simply one blind lead in the investigation last Saturday, and there really is something of a resemblance between her and Julie (if all you have to work with are small distorted pictures).

But what do you expect from a bank of Sun computers? (Talk about being outed...)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:21 AM on May 22, 2001


The most chilling revelation in the FAQ...


The operator of Metafilter revealed Kaycee's IP address from an email he had gotten from her before she "died". This IP address was from an internet provider in Peabody, Kansas. The same place Debbie Swensen now lives.


Ahh, sweet. Maybe Metafilter needs some new tag lines...

"Meta-Privacy. You've got none. Get over it."

"We respect your privacy as much as Bush respects the environment!"

"Your IP is Meta-safe with us!!"

I'd like to say, "no big deal," except there's no note on the site letting potential users know that their privacy means nothing around here.
posted by yarf at 6:26 AM on May 22, 2001


Oh, ok. Yeah, this is fun.

I think that's a big part of it - the vicarious thrill of watching the "investigation" unfold, being able to participate to a certain extent, everyone having access to the same clues...

It reminds me of one of those "whodunit" dinner parties. Only without the corpse, as it turns out...
posted by aeolian at 6:26 AM on May 22, 2001


Oh, ok. Yeah, this is fun.

Haven't I read exactly the same comment in the previous KC thread?
posted by andrew cooke at 6:32 AM on May 22, 2001


Also, in the summary of what happened, you state that Randall met Kaycee through CollegeClub. As far as I can tell from his page on the subject, Halcyon met her at CollegeClub - Randall didn't meet her until later, at citizen x.
posted by binkin at 6:40 AM on May 22, 2001


yarf: I'd like to say, "no big deal," except there's no note on the site letting potential users know that their privacy means nothing around here.

By all indications, the individual in question was never a user of MetaFilter--the IP didn't come from the MeFi logs. Moreover, the individual in question was never an individual at all, so I'd regard it as a "special case", to say the least.
posted by disarray at 6:45 AM on May 22, 2001


Other nitpicky things:

"Debbie weaved" in the first section should be "Debbie wove". (Yes, I know "weaved" is a real word, it's just non-standard.) Same paragraph: what's "reaccurance"? "Reassurance"? etc.

There are other style/spelling/usage issues and I'd be happy to go over it for you, if you'd like. Good job overall, though - I hope people will make use of this resource when referencing the situation.
posted by binkin at 6:46 AM on May 22, 2001


yarf, scam my friends, and your privacy means nothing to me, either.
posted by dhartung at 6:50 AM on May 22, 2001


Couldn't you folks email your typographical corrections to the author instead of posting them to Metafilter? I expected interesting commentary in this thread and instead got seven people saying things like "you fucked up a 'teh' on line twelve."

MetaTalk, I know, MetaTalk. But come on.
posted by werty at 6:51 AM on May 22, 2001


I didn't follow the Kaycee thing but I think the person who concieved Kaycee should be given an award.

This whole thing is a wonderful example of the power of the internet. No other form of media would be able to create a character this powerful. This type of interactive fiction is what the world needs.

Plus, I just love a good hoax.
posted by bondcliff at 6:57 AM on May 22, 2001


Wait... What if Matt Haughey isn't real? Deep...
posted by TacoConsumer at 7:01 AM on May 22, 2001


werty: What, because there haven't been enough threads to discuss the Kaycee situation on MeFi? ;) I think we've hashed over the details enough times that there's very little "feedback" (as requested in the original post) to provide in that arena.
posted by binkin at 7:11 AM on May 22, 2001


My apologies for being self-referential: Deconstructing Kaycee.
posted by docjohn at 7:12 AM on May 22, 2001


I want this to be in the FAQ

Halycon artwork. Nice bod.

The FAQ still seems to have much speculation as to how things unfolded and the role of the various players. Some people are being let off the hook.
posted by TimTypeZed at 7:16 AM on May 22, 2001


except there's no note on the site letting potential users know that their privacy means nothing around here.

What a load of hogwash. It would be one thing for Matt to reveal information about users of this site, it is quite another to choose to reveal a header in a private email addressed to him from a person who is now alleged to be dead. Way to make distinctions, yarf!
posted by quonsar at 7:19 AM on May 22, 2001


I don't think the FAQ should take at face value the latest confession from the hoaxsters. The last confession was completely bogus on several details, including the idea that Kaycee Nicole was a dead girl who was like a daughter to Debbie.

For those who are still interested in Scooby Doo Gang-style investigation of this topic, there's an active Kaycee-Nicole EGroup.
posted by rcade at 7:28 AM on May 22, 2001


How BWG represented his relationship with Kaycee:

1. kaycee does exist, and her story is true. many of us know her, and a few know her personally.

i spend a great deal of time talking to kaycee and her mother on a daily basis. i am acutely aware of her day to day trials; her highs and her lows.


If people who only skimmed this thing on an occasional basis now feel gullible, then how gullible was this guy?

He maintained the blog, he edited all the posts.

In his shutup, shutup, shutup post early in the speculation he stated that Kaycee lived in Kansas, but not in Newton. Actually, the Debbie posts were coming from near Newton. On the map Newton seems to be the larger center near Peabody. So there was some active misdirection here.

Someone decided a sick girl needed a title; someone decided a sick girl needed a logo; someone decided a sick girl needed ancilliary merchandise.

Without the help of BWG and Halcyon this would have never left the BouncingTiggerLand of Geocities and College Club.

And now while so many are fascinated with the mystery, one of the players seems to be able to delete all the memories and calmly go back to telling colourful stories of life amongst a smaller, less pale people.
posted by TimTypeZed at 7:36 AM on May 22, 2001


Does Julie Fullbright know about this yet? I haven't seen that angle anywhere.
posted by norm at 7:36 AM on May 22, 2001


Bonzo, a few things:

- we don't know exactly when things started, so your dates are probably off. The 1997 or 1998 is probably false, because collegeclub wasn't around back then IIRC.

- you say she had cancer for two years, but actually the blogs started last august 9th I think, and that's as far as I know the first mentions of cancer by "Kaycee" although maybe they transitioned from CollegeClub pages to the blog with the cancer claim

- you made a lot of connections based on what she's said in an interview, maybe we should break that speculation out, instead of connecting the dots in the story with it.

- I didn't post the IP of Kaycee from an email, it was Debbie's email. I did that because we were trying to find out if there really was a Debbie. I noticed someone messed that up in an old thread, but it was 50 comments away so I didn't get a chance correct it.

BTW, I consolodated the two threads into one by moving the good comments from the last kaycee thread here. Carry on...
posted by mathowie at 7:41 AM on May 22, 2001


norm - Julie Fullbright has been e-mailed by the MeFi-ites who discovered the use of her picture.

See message 95 on the Yahoo group board:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/kaycee-nicole/message/95

It's been reported that e-mail to her hasn't bounced, so we think it's an active account. She's going to get a bit of a shock when she does check her mail, methinks...
posted by aeolian at 7:49 AM on May 22, 2001


Someone decided a sick girl needed a title; someone decided a sick girl needed a logo; someone decided a sick girl needed ancilliary merchandise...Without the help of BWG and Halcyon this would have never left the BouncingTiggerLand of Geocities and College Club.

You've hit on a part I'm not sure I understand yet - why, after all he'd done and been through, BWG deleted everything... I'd be prepared to accept him as just another (albeit far more than others) gullible fool, except this "covering of the tracks" activity strikes me as... odd. (Then again, maybe I'm just been readying way too much kayceenicoliana the last few days...)
posted by m.polo at 7:56 AM on May 22, 2001


except this "covering of the tracks" activity strikes me as... odd.

Doesn't strike me as odd at all - strikes me as the act of a man pissed off that he'd been so thoroughly duped. If I was in his position, I'd have done the same thing, out of disgust for what had happened.
posted by dnash at 8:05 AM on May 22, 2001


I won't speak for BWG, but I'm guessing a mix of embarrasement (he's the one that got most duped by the whole thing and probably feels the most used) and high bandwidth costs (can you imagine how many hits those pages must be getting now and into the future?). I don't think it's a coverup at all. Everything's in the google cache and he knows it (he must know it, look how much has been turned up so far). There's nothing to hide on those pages that isn't already stored at google.
posted by mathowie at 8:07 AM on May 22, 2001


BWG told me in e-mail yesterday that the bandwidth was killing him and he didn't want to perpetuate a lie.

It seems to me that his actions are consistent with how a person might behave if he had been thoroughly duped. He didn't just delete the weblogs. He also edited his site to expunge things like a caption on his photo page. The caption that now reads "smiling at 6 a.m. - what am i on?" used to say "a smile for kaycee."

I feel sorry for him -- especially if he paid for any of those phone calls from Hong Kong to Kansas.
posted by rcade at 8:18 AM on May 22, 2001


You know, the more y'all sit and harp on it the more exposer these people will get, thusly the bigger thier head gets and the higher chance of a repeat. -Can't we all move along in our blog?
posted by crackheadmatt at 8:31 AM on May 22, 2001


I can't post a link yet.. I guess I haven't been around long enough.. but I thought this would be perfect for anyone that's looking for a job and is a member of the MetaFilter Crime Investigative Unit: Staffing shortages hamper anti-cyberterrorism unit. Sure, its just hunting for viruses.. but who knows.. mebbe it could lead to bigger and better things!
posted by tsidel at 8:33 AM on May 22, 2001


-- doublepostgirl...sorry --

:: shaking head in admiration and wonder ::

You guys are fucking amazing.
:: mad applause for everyone! ::

"Everything would have been FINE if it weren't for those meddling kids!"

(I was going to say "color me impressed" but then I'd get "Color? Colors! SHE'S IN IT, TOO!" And *then* people would start discussing British vs. American spelling...)

:D
posted by metrocake at 8:37 AM on May 22, 2001


You've hit on a part I'm not sure I understand yet - why, after all he'd done and been through, BWG deleted everything... I'd be prepared to accept him as just another (albeit far more than others) gullible fool, except this "covering of the tracks" activity strikes me as... odd.

It strikes me as odd that someone with a web-based e-mail account would have to e-mail the entries to Hong Kong to be uploaded to blogger, rather than just entering them into blogger herself.

Just another peculiarity of the whole thing.
posted by dogmatic at 8:50 AM on May 22, 2001


I don't think it's a coverup at all. Everything's in the google cache and he knows it.

Let's save this line for the screenplay. I can't wait to hear Dylan McDermott, in the role of Matt Haughey, say this to his young web designer sidekick, Mary Kay Olsen (in her first feature without her twin sister).

I smell an Oscar®!
posted by idiolect at 8:51 AM on May 22, 2001


I wouldn't say that the three players gathered around a table and plotted this all out beforehand, or that they knew the secrets of the others, but they needed each other for their own reasons.

And when I read how this is beginning to be summed up, it reads like people are excusing and apologizing for the actions of the people that were known to them, and placing all responsibility on the outsider, the one time church secretary/ chatfly who maybe wanted to give a little voice and gravity to her notebook of local newspaper poetry.

These two promoters smelled of cheap sanctimony even when there seemed to be a kernel of a brave girl buried somewhere within their pretty product.
posted by TimTypeZed at 8:53 AM on May 22, 2001


Well, congrats to all of you.

Although, I would like to note that seemingly innocent people (Julie Fulbright, it seems) were involved, and that was the reason for my original call for caution. I'm still not sure how fair it is that the media is going to decend upon her without much warning.

By getting a bunch of people who were involved with KayCee into that Yahoo chat, you were able to get a lot further than by calling people's pastors and so forth.

Please, everyone, don't go sending Julie e-mails about this.. wait until the one gets responded to.

As for Debbie Swenson; how about everyone involved begin to compile a list of things that was sent to her? I'll go over to the Yahoo Club and see if someone has already suggested that.

Oh, and organization-wise.. has someone taken the lead on trying to coordinate information? It would be a great way to give you guys and Metafilter a better rapport with the media.. have a spokesperson that can get everyone's names that were involved and what they contributed so everyone can get the right recognition.
posted by rich at 8:59 AM on May 22, 2001


Let's save this line for the screenplay. I can't wait to hear Dylan McDermott, in the role of Matt Haughey, say this to his young web designer sidekick, Mary Kay Olsen (in her first feature without her twin sister). No, wait! Couldn't the twins BOTH play in some kind of Kaycee/Julie thing? {boot to my head} Sorry - back to your regularly scheduled sleuthing. ;-)
posted by thunder at 9:05 AM on May 22, 2001


rich: Please, everyone, don't go sending Julie e-mails about this.. wait until the one gets responded to.

I concur here wholeheartedly, but I'd also like to mention something that might be of (very small) comfort. Per her school's calendar, the spring session ended on May 10. This could potentially mean that she's no longer on campus and no longer paying attention to her campus e-mail. Of course, there are a million counter-examples (she's enrolled in the summer session as well, she's checking from home, she stayed in town or on campus, etc.), but wishful thinking couldn't hurt. Sooner or later (probably sooner), the media will barrage her, but if she doesn't have to wade through five hundred e-mails, so much the better.
posted by disarray at 9:09 AM on May 22, 2001


Guy, let's not get a big head out of this. I doubt that everyone who's done any detective work is going to get namechecked in a New York Times article... of course, I wouldn't mind.

I just hope they emphasize that there were people here who really cared about KayCee, and that it wasn't just some sort of witchhunt, however successful such a thing was.

Personally, I don't want to see Debbie, or anyone else, go to jail over this. Period.
posted by tweebiscuit at 9:17 AM on May 22, 2001


"Oh, and organization-wise.. has someone taken the lead on trying to coordinate information? "
"...have a spokesperson..."

I'm peering in from the outside here, because I wasn't involved with the work that was done last night. However, for spokesperson/media contact, I'd suggest Matt himself -- assuming he has the time. If not, then one of the people who *was* involved last night.

Organization/listing of information could take place among several parties, and then *mirrored,* so no one's server gets borked...? That FAQ for example, is that only in one spot?
posted by metrocake at 9:21 AM on May 22, 2001


ditto twee. I was suprised about how excited people were when there was talk of hauling her off to jail. Sure she screwed a lot of us over.. and *yes* when the truth comes out she should be punished.. but goodness.. *somebody(s)* need a lot of help here.. and not help you'll find behind bars.
posted by tsidel at 9:23 AM on May 22, 2001


oh my goodness!! i've been following this story since the beginning, first on the bwg website, then here (found this page from a link on a blog i read every now and then). this is just INCREDIBLE... it reads like an adventure-mystery story... more twists and turns in the plot than a best seller!

so glad to see that things are being cleared up. though i suppose many people will still be hurting over this....

hope bwg is doing ok.
posted by netsirk at 9:40 AM on May 22, 2001


It strikes me as odd that someone with a web-based e-mail account would have to e-mail the entries to Hong Kong to be uploaded to blogger, rather than just entering them into blogger herself.

Odd, but not unimaginable. I put e-mailed entries into Blogger for a quite-real friend of mine who is travelling. He likes to write about his travels, but is confused by html tags and asks me to check his grammar and spelling before posting an entry. There could be any number of reasons why someone would do it this way.
posted by snowmelter at 9:41 AM on May 22, 2001


In the journal postings on the kutebaby site at CC she did say something about not being very computer savy when taking a college computer course (I think it was) while still being in HS.
posted by tonelesscereal at 9:46 AM on May 22, 2001


I know that everyone is having fun playing detective, but Saundra is the one who broke this story, and if it weren't for her, most of you would still be ardent Kaycee Supporters. Before you all start assigning yourselves the job of press liason, perhaps you should ask her if she wants one- she is the woman who brought the story to the attention of the rest of you, as well as the other boards and forums discussing this issue.
posted by kristin at 9:49 AM on May 22, 2001


I'm really impressed by the information posted so far, I just want to know if Evan Chan is connected to all this.

Seriously, we're all in deep doo-doo once the viral marketing folks get ahold of this. Can you imagine Kacee Nicole with product shots?
posted by daver at 10:04 AM on May 22, 2001


No one is "assigning themselves" the job of press liason. I'm glad you reminded us where some of the first speculation was made public, and I'm sure headspace will have an important role when the story is written, but this is hardly Saundra's "baby".
posted by jpoulos at 10:04 AM on May 22, 2001


I think Saundra has the whole story and has done most of the interviews (which is a good thing). I'm far too busy for spokesperson and she's the crime writing expert. Someone run it by her.
posted by mathowie at 10:05 AM on May 22, 2001


Some thoughts. Yes, I made a few mistakes. I wrote the FAQ at 4am-6am. If you see a problem, please -email it to me-. I've updated the faq with some corrections and I will continue to do so today between catching up on sleep during class. I know the grammar isn't perfect, but I didn't want to wait to post it because so many people were just getting into the story. I will try to clean up the writing today. If you have corrections, again -email- me. Thanks everyone!
posted by bonzo at 10:05 AM on May 22, 2001 [1 favorite]


Sorry, that should have read Saundra, and Becky.
posted by kristin at 10:17 AM on May 22, 2001


But Saundra credits Becky with most of the work. The unraveling really does seem to start there, and with some skeptical comments by Kristin back in November.
posted by rodii at 10:20 AM on May 22, 2001


Whoops, kristin snuck that in while I was dicking around with the TITLE attribute.
posted by rodii at 10:21 AM on May 22, 2001


I bet this is all just marketing collateral for AI.
posted by rdc at 10:37 AM on May 22, 2001


<mode="kaycee-love-bunny">
Her love is real, but she is not.
&lt;/mode>
posted by darukaru at 10:52 AM on May 22, 2001


This isn't the first time this has been said but I wish the finger-pointing at Halcyon and BWG would stop. Now that Debbie's been busted there's a shift from "Halcyon and BWG helped with the scam" to "Well, it's their fault the scam worked because they helped spread the word because they wanted attention for themselves". Which is, really, almost worse.

Anyone who'd ever met Halcyon (and that's lots of people, let me point out), even just briefly as in my case, would know better than to think that. He gets plenty of weblove that never had anything to do with Kaycee. From all I know, he's just a sweet, positive guy who loves more or less the entire planet, with plenty of extra left over for a dying teenage girl he'd never met.

I have never had any contact with BWG but it's awfully bad luck for him to live in Hong Kong where few of us have had the chance to meet him---makes it all that much easier to accuse him of god-knows-what. If he and/or Halycon and/or anyone else "promoted" Kaycee's site it was to try to bring love, prayer, and support to Kaycee. Shades of Craig Shergold: the ones who get taken in are the big-hearted ones who just want to help.

A couple of friends last year were talking about setting up a Kaycee Nicole trust fund site. One of these friends asked for my input. I contributed a little design work for the site, which eventually went nowhere. And thank god it went nowhere, not only because it would have been taking money in the name of a lie, but if we'd gone ahead with it, people would be pointing fingers at *us*. I'd be a bad guy now too.

As far as deleting the blogs: if I found someone had been using me, my time, my resources, my bandwidth to perpetuate a scam and a lie that hurt hundreds of people, I would have deleted it first thing. For that matter I did delete the entries on my site I wrote about Kaycee last week. Whoops, I'm a bad guy again.

As far as the blog-emailing-thing, here's another idea: Blogger uses FTP to publish. While the password can be saved in settings and obscured by asterisks forever after, your server address and userid and the location to which to publish is still editable in a plain text field, and I'd be pretty nervous about giving someone a Blogger account to my domain for that reason. Making me---you guessed it---a bad guy three times over.

I think we're close to having the whole story on all of this now; I think it's all just working out the details from here on out. We're not going to get another turncoat double-agent villian or two revealed in the last scene. I believe the whole truth re: Halcyon and BWG is that they were taken just like the rest of us, only more generous, and now they're paying for it. Shame on you who think there's a dark hidden agenda behind every act of goodwill.

I never, you'll note, stood up to say "Kaycee MUST be real" because, while I'd never thought otherwise, I also knew I never had any proof it was so. It's at the risk of being called a fool and at the risk of inciting yet another round or two of mass backbiting that I even post this message, but this has been bothering me and so here it is.
posted by Sapphireblue at 11:09 AM on May 22, 2001


I don't think that anyone who knows the facts thinks BWG and Halcyon are anything but people who were conned. I certainly didn't mean to insinuate that they were involved for publicity in the FAQ, and I don't think that I did.
posted by bonzo at 11:13 AM on May 22, 2001


For all of those who want Debbie to be let off the hook, I just can't agree. Is anything she did actionable? Well, if she accepted money or property, the answer is YES.

But even if no money changed hands, all of the individuals involved with setting up & maintaining the fake identity on CollegeClub.com are in violation of its terms of use. Plus she probably had to sign some sort of agreement with her ISP, which probably contained a clause about using their connections to commit any form of fraud. And I think Julie and her family have a pretty solid case should they choose to prosecute.

I am no champion of bureaucracy or legalese, but I'm sure at least some of Debbie's actions really were illegal. And the issue should not be just "let go" for whatever reason. The folks with courage enough to pursue this & gather evidence are doing everyone a favor by making it harder to pull off a fraud like this in the future. I have never understood the human tendency to bury one's head in the sand. We should not put up OR shut up.

Also, the barriers to entry for collegeclub.com are rather low. I work at the Dean of Students' Office at UT, and when we begin orientation for over 7,000 incoming students next week, what will we say about collegeclub.com if asked? hmmm ... of course they are not to blame for any of this, but it does reflect poorly on them.
posted by whatnot at 11:21 AM on May 22, 2001


If you really and truly love the entire planet, unconditionally love the entire planet, you'll do some checking as to not harm other people. No one's perfect, everybody's a fool (or plays one, as the song goes) sometimes. Sometimes you gotta think to love too, though, actually a lot of times you do. Love is potentially or usually positive energy, sure, but reason can be as well. Using cold logic while ignoring your emotions can lead to tragedy or corruption or criminal activity, maybe (thus the "banality of evil" phrase). Thinking with only your heart can be just as potentially, if unwittingly, cruel.
posted by raysmj at 11:25 AM on May 22, 2001


kaycee nicole speaks AGAIN!
posted by adnan at 11:30 AM on May 22, 2001


You have a point, raysmj. But don't you think that the people who were duped in this instance have probably learned that lesson? In the future, I'm sure they'll check.

In general, people believe what they want to believe, so they are very easily conned. I would hesitate to attribute anything more than gullibility without some evidence.

But we should all learn from this lesson, and if anyone is this gullible a second time, I think they have to start to assume some responsibility.
posted by anapestic at 11:34 AM on May 22, 2001


It strikes me as odd that someone with a web-based e-mail account would have to e-mail the entries to Hong Kong to be uploaded to blogger, rather than just entering them into blogger herself.

One small detail: the site wasn't made using Blogger - it was a Greymatter site. I don't know much about Greymatter (yet), but I do know that it's considerably more complicated to use than Blogger. I don't know if that answers the remote updating question or not, though.
posted by Aaaugh! at 11:44 AM on May 22, 2001


anapestic: I don't think just gullibility factors into the equation. Also, surem these folks will check next time. Both were adults already, of course, but as I said no one is perfect and neither did anything criminal here. I would, however, think it's safe to say that there is social pressure to go along with such public "caring." Heck, there increasingly has been in recent years, seems to me, as much talk as there has been about cynicism and apathy. What I'm specifically talking about it caring for media-created or publicized figures, caring for people you don't know. Also, making a big show of your caring is increasingly accepted as a positive thing. Oh, look how good he is! Awww. Yikes. Being reserved, being anonymously helpful (no one should know about it except for you and a select few), is practically discouraged. And being anonymously helpful -- or helpful as part of a larger group -- is how it's supposed to be done.
posted by raysmj at 11:44 AM on May 22, 2001


BWG has a new update on his weblog about the situation.
posted by rcade at 11:48 AM on May 22, 2001


Whatnot
And I think Julie and her family have a pretty solid case should they choose to prosecute.

I completely agree, it's the first thing that crossed my mind when I read that Julie's been identified -- she's definitely a major victim of Debbie's scam
posted by matteo at 12:00 PM on May 22, 2001


OK, that's it... I just read the new post from BWG that rcade linked to above. {way back} I insinuated that there was something spooky about him deleting those pages, maybe he played some bigger part, whatever...

BWG, I'm sorry. Wow, you sincerely sound like a man who's had his heart hijacked. In retrospect, the stuff I posted about your deletion of the pages was idle speculation at best and personally painful to you at worst. I'd send this in an email directly to you, but since I "slammed" you in public, I'm apologizing in public.
posted by m.polo at 12:07 PM on May 22, 2001


People keep asking why would 'kaycee' email her blog entries if they were using blogger. well, that's pretty easy to answer, they weren't using blogger. they started out w/blogger, but when it starting having problems he switched over to greymatter, which can be a little more complicated.
posted by epoh at 12:07 PM on May 22, 2001


If you really and truly love the entire planet, unconditionally love the entire planet, you'll do some checking as to not harm other people.

Oh good god. Look how many people it took to uncover the truth, and that process started only when someone looked at the big picture after the fact and said, "Hmm. Something's not right here."

It would have been very, very difficult for anyone to have figured all this out on his/her own, let alone someone as trusting as John Styn. I've known him, online and off, for more than three years, so when I first started reading all this about Kaycee (I'm one of the ones who knew nothing of her until the whole hoax thing came to light) and saw the speculation that John might be involved, I literally laughed out loud. If someone had asked me to stake my life on his utter and complete NON-involvement, I'd have asked if if I could go double-or-nothing. John couldn't be duplicitous if he tried. It's simply not in his nature.

Suggesting he should launch a full-scale investigation (because that's what it would have taken to learn the truth) before he tells his audience about an online friend is ludicrous. Thousands of people were duped by the Kaycee Conspiracy (tm). It was a well-executed sham that took dozens of people to expose. Hell, I used to be a private investigator and even I've been impressed by the detective work done here.

Hindsight is always 20/20 ... let's keep the blame where it belongs. It would appear (at this point anyway) that the only guilty parties are a couple members of the Swanson family, and no one else can be blamed for anything more than just being kind, caring individuals.
posted by shauna at 12:14 PM on May 22, 2001


Aaugh: Once you set up Greymatter (which can be a long process) it's just as easy to use as Blogger. Plus, the security concerns raised by sapphireblue don't exist, as it doesn't use FTP. (Other concerns, I'm sure, do exist.) Still, none of the blog software around today (at least that I know of) allows you to add images or change font sizes, etc., without knowing some HTML.

If I were hosting her blog, I would probably have directed Debbie as to the basics of html and let her post herself, but I can understand why BWG chose to do it himself.
posted by jpoulos at 12:30 PM on May 22, 2001


shauna: No, it's not right to play the blame game after the fact, at least not in a rough or anarchic fashion. But you didn't note that *thousands* of others -- or at least dozens of others here -- didn't care about Kaycee until all this broke, in fact avoided her site like the plague. Who wants to say anything, though, if there is a chance he or she will get harassed out the wazzoo for being heartless or cynical? Who want to look like they don't "care?" Takes a special kind of fearless soul, a person with nothing to lose, who still gets harassed now for making "snarky" comments at Wunderblog. It happened in the first thread about Kaycee in metafilter, the harassment. There's the inherent danger of very public, publicized caring about a figure no one knows, much less someone no ever met in person.
posted by raysmj at 12:31 PM on May 22, 2001


Story on MSNBC.
posted by snowmelter at 12:42 PM on May 22, 2001


Hmmph...They managed to include AmILost's admission (he said "bisexual"!), but failed to talk about anyone here who actually helped. (And, no, I'm not talking about me--I didn't do shit.)

I'm glad Saundra got the nod, but no mention of Metafilter at all?
posted by jpoulos at 12:54 PM on May 22, 2001


Well MSNBC lived up to my expectations of that "news" organization, completely leaving out facts that are well-known and futher adding unnessecary confusion. We don't know who the picture are of? Quoting "vanderwoning" without even finding out his real name, which is on his site? Whatever happened to checking facts before publishing?
posted by bonzo at 1:07 PM on May 22, 2001


Actually, that story was quite well written, I thought. So it didn't mention MeFi. At least it wasn't a "OH MY GOD, THESE NET PEOPLE ARE ALL CRAZY" article. It seemed balanced.
posted by solistrato at 1:07 PM on May 22, 2001


From that msnbc article: "Moreover, her ["kaycee's"] writing was exquisite..."

Snicker. O good grief.
posted by acridrabbit at 1:09 PM on May 22, 2001


So much for crediting sources... maybe just as well, do we want MeFi MSNBCed?
posted by normy at 1:09 PM on May 22, 2001


I'm not glad Saundra got as much of a nod as she did, because all the photos are of Julie and credited as being provided by Saundra. Isn't that just as wrong as Debbie's using them in the first place? Julie's image isn't public domain, and people are passing her pictures around as though they were, and if it were me I would be doubly upset that the news agencies were using the images without permission, and crediting them to someone else. By the time the story was written we knew who the images were of, and they simply shouldn't have been used. Anyone who wanted to see what she looked like could go to any number of places to find it.

This is the first post I've made regarding this subject, and it will be the last, but my biggest concern in the whole situation is the girl whose image and identity is being diluted across the internet for the sake of one woman's hoax (I don't care if her daughter was involved, her daughter is what, thirteen?)
posted by annathea at 1:11 PM on May 22, 2001


I thought the article was full of stupid stylistic errors and generally not well-written, but yeah, at least it wasn't too sensationalist....
posted by binkin at 1:16 PM on May 22, 2001


Oh, yes, and one of the things that most bothered me was that they used those images even though we now know they're of a real, 99% likely uninvolved person. Shoddy journalism? At MSNBC? Nah.
posted by binkin at 1:19 PM on May 22, 2001


From: centrsgrrl@yahoo.com
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 19:31:22 -0000
Reply-To: kaycee-nicole@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [kaycee-nicole] julie knows

ok. i guess i've given julie and her mom enough information and a
head start that i can post this now.

i called julie's mom this morning at 8:30 cst to let her know what
was going on. i come from a small town in north texas (we call it
baja oklahoma) and i know what that's like and i wanted her to be
prepared. she said julie was alive and at home asleep. also, julie
never checks her email and is away from school so she won't see any
messages until september at least.

she (julie's mom) wasn't very web savvy. i gave her all of the links
and information and a friend was helping her sort through it all.

she said in a town that small, 326 people, star athletes like her
daughter were either envied or revered. she said the whole swenson
family had a fixation on her daughter and would travel everywhere she
went to see her play basketball. debbie especially just adored her.

she was the one who gave debbie the photos because debbie offered to
make a photo album for julie's graduation. she was supposed to return
the photos. i don't think she believed me until i started describing
the photos and what julie was wearing, etc. she recognized all of the
photos i mentioned.

i don't think she realized that newspapers keep online archives. she
was shocked to learn that they were so easy to find and that
information about her daughter was out there beyond what debbie was
doing. please be very gentle with them and discreet about the last
name even though it's been posted before.

i don't know what they are planning on doing. they are such nice
devout christians that i seriously doubt they will attempt to sue.
she wants everyone to know that she and julie knew nothing about any
of this and that julie is a good girl who goes to church a lot and is
a great basketball player.
posted by bonzo at 1:20 PM on May 22, 2001


Oh, yes, and one of the things that most bothered me was that they used those images even though we now know they're of a real, 99% likely uninvolved person. Shoddy journalism? At MSNBC? Nah.
posted by binkin at 1:23 PM on May 22, 2001


Yes, there is no %1. Debbie was 100.0000% full of crap. Julie is alive and well. Even Debbie's confession is completely fake. I hope they prosecute.
posted by bonzo at 1:23 PM on May 22, 2001


Bonzo: The author of the MSNBC piece obviously didn't know about the identity of the girl in the Kaycee photos when he submitted the story.
posted by rcade at 1:23 PM on May 22, 2001


I do hope someone somewhere has got to Julie Fulbright and warned her about all this. Is using someone's picture like that, without their permission (assuming that's the case) accepted practice?
posted by normy at 1:25 PM on May 22, 2001


..ok, looks like I boobed... sorry.
posted by normy at 1:28 PM on May 22, 2001


rcade, what bothers me is that he could have found out fairly easily, but didn't. And his editors apparently weren't bothered by using a photo of someone uninvolved, either.
posted by binkin at 1:31 PM on May 22, 2001


she said the whole swenson family had a fixation on her daughter... debbie especially just adored her.
she was the one who gave debbie the photos because debbie offered to make a photo album for julie's graduation

This IS scary, folks
posted by matteo at 1:35 PM on May 22, 2001


rcade: Like binkin said, who cares when it was written. It is completely irresponsible of a national news organization to post a story saying "This person isn't real. Here's a picture. We didn't bother to see who this might be and we don't really care what happens to her."
posted by bonzo at 1:37 PM on May 22, 2001


what i think about most now is what if i was debbie's real daughter kelli. wouldn't it make you feel like crap that she adored this other girl so much and spent so much time pretending to be her mother instead of yours? i'd be messed up for life.
posted by centrs at 1:42 PM on May 22, 2001


Hmmph...They managed to include AmILost's admission ... but failed to talk about anyone here who actually helped. (And, no, I'm not talking about me--I didn't do shit.) I'm glad Saundra got the nod, but no mention of Metafilter at all? I am not surprised, as the drama as THEY would see it would be the main scam, but it would have been nice to at least TOUCH on the efforts you guys have made - I actually found the investigation here the most interesting part of the whole saga. The kuro5hin article seemed much more inclusive, of course (from my perspective, too, of course - LOL), and you guys will always be my heroes, no matter what the 'masses' make of it. ;-)
posted by thunder at 1:46 PM on May 22, 2001


I totally agree, gosh.. Debbie is definately sick.
posted by Paige at 1:48 PM on May 22, 2001


Well, seeing as how they were picking up an error that was made her (albeit something like 48 hours ago -- eons, one might say), we can't blame him entirely. I think he did a good job overall, there are just some things that he clearly didn't follow up on or was probably hoping for a response e-mail (like Vangooring, I mean, bwg).

For my part, I was really impressed that he got so much information about gifts that were sent Peabody-way. He implies much more than there may actually have been, but unless somebody compiles a list instead of vectoring hearsay, we'll never know for sure.
posted by dhartung at 1:48 PM on May 22, 2001


Maybe this is a lesson to us all...don't believe everything you read.
posted by Wicker at 1:56 PM on May 22, 2001


I just got an email from the other person in the New York Times article with Kaycee. He was pictured in the article and you might be wondering why Kaycee isn't. Well...

"I was also in the New York Times article that the kaycee persona was
quoted in. I actually have a picture that was taken by a NYT photographer
at my house and was put in the article. Originally, the New York Times had
inquired to CollegeClub.com to poll two people for the article. So CC.com
chose two of it's hosts, people that do amateur content help for the site,
to do it. I was one, and Kaycee was the other. I can remember back now and
remembered that she Kaycee didn't want a picture put in the paper because of
her chemo treatments and that she looked fraile. "


Crazier every moment.
posted by bonzo at 1:57 PM on May 22, 2001


she also refused payment from collegeclub. why? no social security number, i would guess, plus the fact that that would constitute a crime, i think. taxes, etc.
posted by centrs at 2:01 PM on May 22, 2001


Just wanted to clarify--bonzo, I didn't mean to say *you* were implying BWG and Halcyon were scamming anyone or out for attention, but that others were. In this thread, and elsewhere. And certainly people who think they do "know the facts".

But again... you're fine, and thanks for trying to stick to the facts (term used loosely in a case like this, god knows) rather than to suspicions and allegations in your FAQ.
posted by Sapphireblue at 2:02 PM on May 22, 2001


What bothers me about the MSNBC article is that it makes it seem merely like a scam to get money. Although I'm sure the gifts were a nice by-product of this hoax, I think what Debbie primarily sought was attention. Many of you didn't give gifts because you were donating to a "fund" -- you gave because you grew to love this persona, after months and years of knowing her.

Debbie created the Kaycee persona in such detail because she believed/wanted to believe it was true. She is a classic case of Munchausen by Internet, and needs help.

I hope other articles will a) consider Julie's right to privacy b) shed light on the why behind Debbie's hoax and perhaps lead others to seek help for their loved ones c) make Internet users aware of the symptoms so they can save themselves the heartache many of you felt.
posted by jennak at 2:05 PM on May 22, 2001


Did Julie or anyone else in the Fullbright family give Saundra Mitchell permission to hand those photos over to MSNBC? Is Saundra now the representative and curator of the Fullbright photo archive?

It would seem, rather, that it's simply a big screw up on Bob Sullivan's part, but I still wonder what the circumstances were that led Saundra to present him with those photos in the first place.
posted by michaelbrown at 2:06 PM on May 22, 2001


she also refused payment from collegeclub. why? no social security number, i would guess, plus the fact that that would constitute a crime, i think. taxes, etc.


did they even offer to pay her? They do have volunteer hosts there.
posted by nekkidbarrelman at 2:10 PM on May 22, 2001


michealbrown, yes. Sullivan bungled that article on a bunch of points.

I think you may be addressing me, Sapphire. I never once said BWG or Halcyon were behind the scam, only that they were in a better position to find information than any of us were. I held that belief because they were in direct contact with Debbie.

As it turns out, that didn’t matter as the kaycee-nicole club found the real KayCee.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 2:13 PM on May 22, 2001


Michael, those photos could be pulled off of the web server by anyone.
posted by solistrato at 2:14 PM on May 22, 2001


Bob Sullivan told me he was interested -only- in the fraud aspect of the case more than anything else. When I spoke to him, he asked me for my timeline and the materials I worked from, so I sent them. Thatincluded the false lead that I thought the pictures were of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (hence the side by side,) very well photoshopped. He seemed very dismissive of my part of the story and was more interested in following the money. He also interviewed Kristin, but she doesn't appear anywhere in the article. I feel horrible, absolutely horrible about this.
posted by headspace at 2:14 PM on May 22, 2001


Wouldn't the use of those photos (regardless of the source) fall under the Fair Use clause for copyright? Ethically suspect, perhaps, but not legally.

I didn't see mention of Julie's name in connection with the photos in the MSNBC article. Though if they knew her name, those photos could still be used, no?
posted by Suzanne at 2:15 PM on May 22, 2001


yes. collegeclub paid some students to be consultants. they offered kaycee a salary and she declined saying she didn't need the money. a person i trust from collegeclub told me this.
posted by centrs at 2:20 PM on May 22, 2001


People are already getting pissy over on the MSN boards.

Never underestimate the stupidity of the public at large. Still, this is ugly, just within the first half hour; that's a lot of viciousness in only a handful of posts.
posted by Moireach at 2:22 PM on May 22, 2001


Any effort by MeFi folks to protect Julie's privacy, regardless of the MSNBC piece, seem futile now. Plenty of links here and elsewhere have been posted. Her name is now very easily found. That lid was opened yesterday evening.
posted by normy at 2:25 PM on May 22, 2001


At the risk of defending the media (rarely popular): news organizations aren't in the business of asking for permission to run photos like that. People in the news don't have some sort of inalienable right to control how their own image is used. The First Amendment clearly trumps that. (Imagine if a 19-year-old college basketball player had been brutally murdered -- of course a newspaper/web site would be allowed to run, say, her yearbook photo.)

This instance is obviously a bit different from most, since Julie didn't do anything wrong. But the story is all about stolen identity, and the images Debbie used to create that fake identity is a legit part of the story. (And, as mentioned above, the writer clearly didn't even know who Julie was.)

The issue of crediting the photo to Saundra would be murkier if it just had Saundra's name, but it clearly says "provided by," which is standard newsese for a photo the person cited didn't shoot herself but is just handing over. Hell, the only reason everyone's been able to do the great detective work they have here is because Google keeps a copy of everything on the Internet, which to me is a much, much murkier area than MSNBC using a photo.

There's no copyright concern either -- there's a very clear part of copyright law that allows the use of other people's photos/writings/etc. in a news context under fair use doctrine. Just as we're all allowed to quote from "Kaycee"'s journals here, MSNBC is allowed to use "Kaycee"'s photo online, just as lots of you have been mirroring her photos all over your own sites. Because it's newsworthy.
posted by crabwalk at 2:25 PM on May 22, 2001


its not an issue of fair use of copyrighted material as much as it is an issue of an individual's right to privacy. the MSNBC article glosses over many of the details. someone going to the article, seeing the picture at the top, may come to the false conclusion that the person in those pictures (julie fullbright) was involved in some way. that's the model we have internalized: picture at top of column = story about person in picture. her name and image should only be used with her express permission.
posted by caf at 2:30 PM on May 22, 2001


What amount of brains can you expect from a bunch of Evil Empire lurkers?
posted by faith at 2:30 PM on May 22, 2001


The MSNBC article fails to mention that "Debbie/Kaycee" sometimes sent gifts in return.

I love it, Moireach: "These must be the same people who hung out on 976 and 900 party lines, till their parents got the bill!"

Gotta go now!! I'm gonna play outside with my N*SYNC razor skooter, but keep my AOL and my 976 party line connections going!!! TTYL! BFF!!
posted by jennak at 2:31 PM on May 22, 2001


I think that MSNBC article was pretty poorly written. The first glaring error I noted was this:

It all began when Kaycee’s alleged mom, identified as Debbie Swanson of Peabody Kan., befriended another Weblogger named Vanderwoning, who lives in Hong Kong.

1) The whole Kaycee charade was begun long before bwg got involved.

2) Swanson? It's Swenson. A small error, but notable considering how much it's appeared on MeFi alone.

It really seems like the author of the article only went for the angles he found interesting, and not for the truth, which is what so many people here have worked hard to uncover. The fact checking is shoddy and it doesn't even look like this was run past an editor. (bwg's name is properly spelled "van der woning" not mashed together as one word, easily verified via his site. And once in the article, it's even misspelled as "Vandooring.")

I'm also disgusted by the use of Julie's photos in this article. Whatever the source for them was, it's irresponsible to use them without permission. I'm also disturbed by Saundra's (of headspace) story of how the interview went. It just verifies that Bob wanted to write what HE wanted, and not what's correct.
posted by phichens at 2:33 PM on May 22, 2001


http://sports.snu.edu/info/Basketball/women

This is the link to Julie Fullbright's college basketball team. If you look at all the players on her team, there is a "Kacey" and a Nicole. Perhaps not relevant to the investigation, but a strange coincidence nonetheless.
posted by Renee Pelagie at 2:35 PM on May 22, 2001


headspace: it's not your fault that Sullivan botched it. and solistrato, you're right, he easily could have downloaded them. But he never identified her which leads me to believe he didn't get permission. And regardless of whether or not if falls under fair use, it's misleading. That is NOT "kaycee" in that picture. How could it be?
posted by michaelbrown at 2:38 PM on May 22, 2001


Never underestimate the stupidity of the public at large. Still, this is ugly, just within the first half hour; that's a lot of viciousness in only a handful of posts. Now I know why I never go to those boards. Metafilter has definitely spoiled me - in that good Las Vegas way. :-) The thing is, those people are reacting exactly how the MSNBC article set them UP to react. And reacting it is, not a lot of actual THINKING going into those posts. Oh well - perhaps some will seek out more information, perhaps some will be happy eating what MSNBC feeds them. {shrug}
posted by thunder at 2:40 PM on May 22, 2001


"its not an issue of fair use of copyrighted material as much as it is an issue of an individual's right to privacy."

Actually, it wouldn't be privacy so much as defamation. The privacy suit would be easier to defend against. Defamation would be tough. The article falsely implies that the woman pictured was involved in a hoax or scam in an active way, when in fact she was not. She was an innocent bystander, a victim of the scam in that her image was improperly used by the hoaxster. But as pointed out above, she's not likely to litigate.
posted by Outlawyr at 2:42 PM on May 22, 2001


not in that part of the country ;) they seem to be popular names.
posted by centrs at 2:44 PM on May 22, 2001


michaelbrown: how could msnbc be "misleading" people into thinking the photo is of "kaycee" when the whole story is about how "kaycee" didn't exist? it isn't a photo of the real "kaycee" because there aren't any of those; it IS a photo of the fictional "kaycee," which is why it's with the story and captioned as one of several "photographs purporting to be the 19-year-old."

outlawyr: the article doesn't imply anything about the woman in the photo being involved in any active way. quote: "no one is sure who was in those pictures." a defamation suit would be thrown out in five minutes.
posted by crabwalk at 2:50 PM on May 22, 2001


Crabwalk, are you familiar with lawsuits where a photo was used to illustrate an unrelated story, say about drug users, or hookers, or whatever, and the person in the picture sues? These are often successful.

By the way, I don't think that caption was there the first time I looked at the MSNBC story, someone added it.
posted by Outlawyr at 2:57 PM on May 22, 2001


MSNBC article has been corrected (some). BWG's name was fixed, at least.
posted by jennak at 2:58 PM on May 22, 2001


The more I read the story, the more pissed I get. And the msn boards don't help. This guy presented the story as an internet scam, which it wasn't. These were not little old lady's getting screwed out of their social security. These are some sophisticated people who got tricked. And the point is not about what little money was involved. People are much more willing to part with their money than with their emotions, often. As corny as it may sound, Debbie took something that money can't buy.
posted by jpoulos at 3:04 PM on May 22, 2001


The difference between the MSNBC article and the Google cache is that when people put things out on the 'net they KNOW other people are going to see them - potentially the entire world. It was creepy and wrong of Debbie to use those photographs in the first place.

I just feel the media have some obligation to protect "victims" in situations like this (and Julie really was a victim in this case - can you imagine how she must feel?). I mean, they don't print pictures of rape victims who are still trying to go about their lives, etc.
posted by binkin at 3:04 PM on May 22, 2001


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