"The Internet taught us that we could be anyone; it’s a lesson that was comforting for middle school geeks and convenient for fabulists who were not content with their “real” lives. Thousands of people take advantage of it every day — fudge the truth, fake the numbers, fuss with the age and weight. The entire online dating business is powered by people whose online selves are a little taller and wealthier than their offline ones. People create throwaway personas for message boards that are used, then abandoned.
This week it was revealed that Amina Arraf, the wildly popular gay Syrian female blogger, wasn’t. Who she was: a straight man from Georgia, living in Scotland. On Monday, another twist: Paula Brooks, the deaf lesbian editor of Lez Get Real — who had criticized Tom MacMaster for creating the identity of Amina — wasn’t either. She was Bill Graber, a straight man living in Ohio...."
-- bth: the story here isn't about straight guys impersonating gay girls. The story is that the web can be used as a propaganda tool, not just by lonely middle aged men but by governments, social activists and companies. It is also the honey pot of lazy reporters who do not qualify their sources before quoting them. This phenomenon has far more dangerous consequences than fake alien autopsies of yesteryear. Governments will start using this approach if they haven't already. So will hate groups. It was only a couple of years ago that the US government for example was paying Iraqi sources to plant stories into newspapers and in one case I tracked down a blog which supposedly originated from an Iraqi civilian to a server in NJ heavily used by the US government. When the story broke about US paid propaganda via the Pentagon, the blog mysterious disappeared and within a few days all trace of it in Google cache (which tells you something about Google). Ironically one 'tell' was the stiff government issue like format and perfect spelling. What is to prevent the Israeli's, the Syrians, the Russians or social activists from doing the same.