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NYT Exposes the Identity of Fake Steve Jobs 166

Posted by Zonk
from the hard-to-be-anonymous-if-someone-is-determined dept.
mattatwork writes "NY Times writer Brad Stone figured out the real identity of Fake Steve Jobs. With classic nick names like 'freetards' and 'beastmaster' Fake Steve captured an audience of 700,000 visitors to the site and around 50 emails a day. According to Daniel Lyons, the senior editor at Forbes magazine who maintained the blog, there is no definite plan for the future of the site. 'Mr. Lyons said he invented the Fake Steve character last year, when a small group of chief executives turned bloggers attracted some media attention. He noticed that they rarely spoke candidly. "I thought, wouldn't it be funny if a C.E.O. kept a blog that really told you what he thought? That was the gist of it." Mr. Lyons says he recalled trying out the voices of several chief executives before settling on the colorful Apple co-founder. He twice tried to relinquish the blog, but started again after being deluged by fans e-mailing to ask why Fake Steve had disappeared.'"
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NYT Exposes the Identity of Fake Steve Jobs

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  • Solved? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by taoman1 (1050536) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @09:21PM (#20126313)
    Was this a mystery that just had to be solved?
    • Re:Solved? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2007 @09:27PM (#20126351)
      I can just imagine the reporter in full Nancy Drew mode poring over clues.

      Break out your magnifying glass kids, we're off to solve the Mystery of The Fake CEO Blogger!
    • Re:Solved? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by OS24Ever (245667) * <trekkie@nomorestars.com> on Sunday August 05, 2007 @09:27PM (#20126353) Homepage Journal
      No kidding. I was wondering the exact same thing. It was a parody, and it was fun. Now it's going to get corporate sponsorship from the guys employer and I'd find it hard to think it'd be the same again.
    • by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @11:07PM (#20126841)
      I suspect this was more an unveiling than a discovery. Notice in TFA:

      In October, Da Capo Press will publish his satirical novel written in the voice of the Fake Steve character, "Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs, a Parody."
      He'll be actively courting publicity now.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jalefkowit (101585)
        I dunno about that. If the primary concern was book sales, he'd have been better off preserving the anonymity until the book was actually on the shelves. When "Primary Colors [cnn.com]" (a thinly veiled account of the 1992 Clinton campaign -- the book's main character, "Jack Stanton", is a doughnut-gobbling Southern governor running for President) came out, it was credited simply to "Anonymous" -- which led the media to speculate for weeks about which Clinton insider had spilled the beans. By the time it was reveale
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 1u3hr (530656)
          Well, Bill Clinton has a much higher profile than Steve Jobs, outside the geek world. Publicity before a book comes out may be necessary to convince bookshops to order it in quantity.
    • by Xenographic (557057) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @11:36PM (#20126949) Homepage Journal
      Dan Lyons was that guy who schilled for SCO, repeating their press releases as if they were news, helping to stalk PJ of Groklaw, creating a blog that seemed to serve little purpose except to give SCO a "source" to cite in its litigation, calling us all fools for thinking SCO had no case, etc.

      Finding out that he's been out trolling some more only makes sense. I mean, the guy is one great big douchbag and he loves getting people riled up. Doesn't Forbes want him publishing under his real name any more? I don't blame them. He's like a Dvorak clone who likes to rile anti-SCO people instead of Apple fans.
      • I would mod this up.. if I could.. *looks at slashdot gods*
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Yeah, he's that Dan Lyons. Total scumbag hack. This is possibly what made him such a great Fake Steve Jobs.

        Then he did something that I still can't believe. He picked up a marker and started drawing on my whiteboard. Which everyone knows is a huge pet peeve of mine. It's my whiteboard. Which I was standing at, holding a marker, writing things like, Wrong, Stupid, Clueless, Dumbass, No Friggin way, and so forth. So he started drawing on the whiteboard, things like Money, Mine, and Shut up, and I'm just standing there like, Oh. My. God. I can't believe I'm seeing this. What the frig? I could feel the veins in my eyes starting to swell up like they might explode. And I was like, Put. Down. The. Friggin. Marker. Now. Seriously, man, before I do some aikido moves and rip out your friggin heart and eat it in front of you, still beating. Or take your friggin head off. How dare you? How dare you? This is my whiteboard. That's it. Take your stupid money and don't let the door hit you on the butt on the way out. I'll do my own blog, on my own terms. Now, despite all this, I did say "Peace" as he left.

        -- From the post God it feels so good to fire people [blogspot.com].

        So, Dan Lyons the reporter? Douchebag should choke on his own cock. Dan Lyons the satirist? Artist. It's too bad he's folding The Secret Diary into Forbes. He should quit his job there, leave the douchebaggery behind him, and strike out on his own.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by foo fighter (151863)
        Please post some citations for your serious accusations.

        Your statements are as libelous as what you accuse Lyons of, if they are not true.

        Weaselly posts like this modded up to +5 are why I rarely read /. anymore.
        • by imroy (755) <imroykun@gmail.com> on Monday August 06, 2007 @03:25AM (#20127791) Homepage Journal

          Please post some citations for your serious accusations.

          Don't have much of a memory do you? Try reading some Groklaw. In fact, PJ posted about this just today [groklaw.net]. Mr. Lyons has quite a history around the SCO case. He's also attacked bloggers for being largely anonymous and lacking credibility. Pot calling the kettle something...

        • Umm, every one of my accusations has been well-documented on Groklaw. And don't give me some crappy excuse like "oh, I disagree with PJ so I can ignore all that Groklaw stuff" because every last story cites its sources.

          You don't have to agree with or believe PJ, you just have to take a look at the sources she cites and connect the dots for yourself.

          Actually, the most recent Groklaw story already provided covers most of my allegations. The fact that SCO cited DL's blog is a matter of public record (it's in
      • Makes me wonder if Apple wasn't next in their suit. In any event it seems the name wasn't picked out of inconvenience. Mr. Jobs seems to be well liked in the tech industry/general public for his accomplishments. SCO was having a PR nightmare. There were rumors poster on the blog was Mr. Jobs. What better way to spin positive PR SCO's way by using a character well liked in the industry/public.
  • by LameAssTheMity (998266) <william.brien@gmail.com> on Sunday August 05, 2007 @09:21PM (#20126315)
    Fake, everyone knows Steve Jobs isn't real.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2007 @09:24PM (#20126331)
    Mystery solved: 'Fake Steve' blogger comes clean [com.com] See CNET's reprint of the NYT article there.
  • by Trentus (1017602) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @09:40PM (#20126405)
    A few years ago, a friend directed me to http://johnhoward.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]. It's one of the few web pages I've actually laughed out loud at. It's written in a great style.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2007 @11:59PM (#20127059)
      Who the hell is that?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by GaryPatterson (852699)
        Since Google is broken and no other Internet search engine can apparently be reached from your computer, I'll help you out. John Howard is the Australian Prime Minister. That's Australia, the huge island between the Indian and Pacific Oceans (west of California), about the size of the USA. It's not Austria, the small country next to Germany (in Europe, which is across the Atlantic Ocean, east of the USA). Normally I'd not bother with such detailed information, but it'll save you asking again, or having to w
        • by dbIII (701233) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:37AM (#20127611)
          Yes, but when it comes down to it he's not hugely relevant so is ignorable internationally - his government has pretty well been in caretaker mode for the last decade and his foreign policy is "me too". Even a major US newspaper got his name wrong and called him Mike Hunt when he was visiting the USA - possibly misled by an Aussie that was playing a bit of a joke. The last Prime Minister we had that we would expect people to notice is Malcolm Fraser - very tall, face like an Easter Island statue and memorable for running around in a US hotel with no pants on.
          • by laptop006 (37721)
            You've forgotten Bob Hawke, who else (well, ok the US has Clinton and W) had a leader who held drinking records AND got away with a public affair?
        • Australia? Is that in the Valley?
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Well, you should have known that was fake. If John Howard had a blog, it would be hosted at whitehouse.gov.
  • by Trillan (597339)
    I hope he regroups and comes back. FSJ is one of the most entertaining reads on the web. Would it be so hard to pretend the genie didn't come out of the bottle? Does it really make a difference? Well, I guess it does, because everyone will always be analyzing it for ulterior motives now...
    • Simple solution: Have someone else, who has no ties to Lyons take over the blog. It's not that hard to write stuff like that and I'd imagine that anyone has been reading the FSJ blog for sometime with a decent sense of humor and some writing skills could pick it up pretty easily.
      • '' Simple solution: Have someone else, who has no ties to Lyons take over the blog. ''

        Could you imagine what Apple could do by creating a "Fake Steve Jobs" blog now?
        Can you imagine Mr. Lyons trying to sue Apple for using the name "Steve Jobs" in a fake blog?
    • by Lewisham (239493)
      I think it's really sad someone was so determined to do this. FSJ was funny because there was always a tiny, *tiny* inkling it could actually be RSJ. But now we know it's not.

      It's rather like running around Disney World and pulling the heads off the characters. We know they're fake... but do you have to completely ruin it for everyone?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Forbes.com [forbes.com]:

      "The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs," a satirical blog about Apple's iconic chief executive and purporting to be penned by him, will be published in association with Forbes.com starting Aug. 6.
      I'm not sure if this was as much an unmasking as it was a well-timed publicity stunt.
    • Re:Darn. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Simon Garlick (104721) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @11:30PM (#20126925)
      The thing that blows my mind is that there's an editor out there who can WRITE.
  • by Scoria (264473) <slashmail@@@initialized...org> on Sunday August 05, 2007 @09:52PM (#20126465) Homepage
    Now, if only we could get those investigative journalists of yours to apply their talent where it really makes a difference...
    • by twitter (104583)

      Now, if only we could get those investigative journalists of yours to apply their talent where it really makes a difference...

      Or if Daniel Lyons and Forbes could really understand technical issues and provide informed reporting instead of tired satire. Really, this guy's bad attitude comes across in his day job too.

      • The attitude and sloppiness and axegrinding should have no place in serious journalism, which is probably why they're qualities so evident over at Forbes. That is, if you can get past the intrusive advertising to actually read the content. Bleh. On the other hand, these very same attributes are what gave Fake Steve Jobs his charming quality. And if there was an axe to grind, you can be sure he'd grind everyone's axe, even and especially Apple's. Here's a choice quote from one of his posts entitled Regarding [blogspot.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jacoplane (78110)
      Seriously, hearing that the New York Times would actually allow their reporters to investigate this story makes me really sad. Is the Times turning into NBC Dateline?

      We have Pakistan (our ally) collaborating with the Taliban [indianexpress.com], there are Over 20 million displaced homeless [npr.org] due to floods in India, and let's not mention the hypocrisy of the government at home.

      If The New York Times feels that this is a worthy exercise for their investigative reporters.... what has the world come to. Rupert Murdoch owns the WSJ, a
      • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Sunday August 05, 2007 @11:56PM (#20127041) Homepage Journal

        You do know that the New York Times has more than one reporter, right? And that it's possible for them to write stories on silly little things like this and still cover the Taliban, homeless, floods, and government? Oh, and even give us a nifty new crossword every day?

      • by vought (160908) on Monday August 06, 2007 @02:04AM (#20127473)
        We have Pakistan (our ally) collaborating with the Taliban [indianexpress.com], there are Over 20 million displaced homeless [npr.org] due to floods in India, and let's not mention the hypocrisy of the government at home.
        If The New York Times feels that this is a worthy exercise for their investigative reporters....


        Maybe it's the only kind of investigative reporting that they can do these days without being arrested.

        Don't scoff - Bush himself went on a rampage after the NYTimes outed his little "go around the courts" wiretapping program.
      • With the world being what it is -- which is what it always has been -- there is no room for fun. None. Every day people are dying, and we're reading Slashdot. Okay, maybe that isn't fun, but sometimes we're using procreation processors for pleasure when we could be thinking about the Taliban. Okay, so, once again, we're reading Slashdot, so this is unlikely. Well, we're writing filesystems. {get Recursive_Joke}

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dbIII (701233)

        We have Pakistan (our ally) collaborating with the Taliban

        That was old news in 1999. The Taliban are what happens when the kids that grow up in brutal refugee camps back over the border from Pakistan and come home to turn the entire country into a brutal refugee camp. The links are very deep to different factions in Pakistan - but you can't blame the entire country for it. Other allies such as Algeria get up to far nastier things.

        When it comes down to it this article probably only needed a few hours of

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rayonic (462789)

        There are still investigative journalists worth reading out there, here's one: Seymour Hersh

        You've got to be kidding. Perhaps you can find some good journalism there, underneath all the bile, slant, and anonymous sources.

        He had one big story, and has been trying to recapture the magic ever since.
    • by Wordsmith (183749) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @11:20PM (#20126901) Homepage
      Oh please. The NYT does a whole range of things, from fluff to hard-hitting international journalism - from book reviews to government exposes, from quirky coverage of Adult Swim's Star Wars Project to insider political reporting. The diversity of coverage is part of what makes it a strong paper.

      That its did this says nothing about the quality of its coverage of other items. You can't look at every use of a resource as wasteful just because it's not devoted to the single most important item of the day; the breadth of coverage is important too.
    • OMG government, why are you worrying about highways when there are TERRORISTS out there!?!?!?
    • Can you say "Edward R. Murrow award?"
  • Tragedy (Score:5, Funny)

    by fishthegeek (943099) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @09:54PM (#20126477) Journal
    I feel like a tiny bit of myself has been killed today. I will never experience the same innocent joy that accompanies reading a fake CEO blog again. Damn frigtard reporters.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 05, 2007 @09:58PM (#20126497)
    The New York Times is now working on the identify of an even more prolific online writer, "Anonymous Coward".
  • This needs quoting (Score:5, Informative)

    by eclectro (227083) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @10:02PM (#20126519)
    This is from Fake Steve's blog [blogspot.com];

    "You put the pieces of the puzzle together. You went through my trash, hacked into my computer, and put listening devices in my home. Now you've ruined the mystery of Fake Steve, robbing thousands of people around the world of their sense of childlike wonder. Hope you feel good about yourself, you mangina."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by creimer (824291)
      OMG! The Fake Steve is a dog! That means the Real Steve has to be a cat! The Mac OS X naming scheme makes perfect sense now! :P
    • by chebucto (992517) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @10:49PM (#20126763) Homepage
      From the same post on the blog:

      One bright side is that at least I was busted by the Times and not Valleywag. I really, really enjoyed seeing those guys keep guessing wrong. For six months Dr. Evil and Mr. Bigglesworth put their big brains together and couldn't come up with the answer. Guy from the Times did it in a week. So much for the trope about smarty-pants bloggers disrupting old media. Brilliant.
      File under "It's funny, laugh"
  • thanks NYT! (Score:5, Funny)

    by godawful (84526) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @10:05PM (#20126541)
    i'm glad someone killed the child-like wonder FSJ had instilled in my life, next assignment? an exposé on proving santa claus isn't real, just in time for xmas
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by catbutt (469582)

      an exposé on proving santa claus isn't real, just in time for xmas
      maybe more appropriate and useful would be to show that jesus isn't real.
  • I mean, just look at this quote:

    "Lyons clearly used the Fake Steve persona to further some of his own interests and positions. For example, articles in other business publications and their journalists were a frequent target of criticism from Fake Steve, while Forbes got off comparatively easy."

    He was mad that this obviously fake Steve, which nobody was really taking seriously, was making too much fun of him.

    Seriously, that looks like a kid wrote it. I can even hear the whiny voice...
    • by dbIII (701233) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:05AM (#20127285)
      Lyons did push a bit too far. For example his personal attack on PJ from Groklaw is overstepping the bounds, isn't relevant to the "character", most of his audience would have never heard of her previously and it was not remotely funny or on topic - just a rant. Since he's no longer anonymous he has to cop the criticism and loss of reputation like any other "satirist" paticularly if it is self serving - but would or should anybody really sue?
  • by SeaFox (739806)
    People may make jokes about how this was a mystery that wasn't that great and "who cares" but really, I actually rather liked the fact it was unknown.

    Yeah, no one really believed it was the real Steve Jobs, but it's still one of those things where now that it's out things aren't quite the same.
  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @10:40PM (#20126713)
    The "Secret Diary of Bill Gates, Aged 40 1/4" was in a similar vein, about 10 years ago. This was written, as the title implies, in the style of Adrian Mole, as a self-important nerd.

    Monday, January 15
    No. It can't be true! They really are writing about Steve Jobs -- I just saw the latest Wired magazine with an in-depth interview with the Boy Wonder. Why is he a "visionary"? I'm a visionary too. Why don't they call me a "visionary"? I'm tired of being "ruthlessly competitive". This guy got lucky too. I mean, you know, they always say I got lucky when IBM licensed DOS. That wasn't luck, it was skill. I negotiated a great deal from IBM then ran over to Patterson's place and snapped up Q-DOS. That takes *balls*. Jobs has no balls. Jobs is a guy who spends two weeks choosing a washer/dryer. Yes, *two* weeks. For what? Like, $500 or so. The guy has millions. Jobs is a guy who actually cares about his clothes "feeling really soft". What a loser --
    The site lasted a year or so. I found an archive of 1997 here. [davesource.com]
  • Dan "Lyin'" Lyons invents stuff all the time. He should stick to fiction and selling it as such, instead of trying to palm it off as somehow related to reality.

    --
    BMO
  • by Lethyos (408045) on Sunday August 05, 2007 @11:47PM (#20127001) Journal

    “Fake Steve Jobs is fake!” Shocking!

  • by earthbound kid (859282) on Monday August 06, 2007 @12:05AM (#20127085) Homepage
    What ever happened to As Seen On TV [slashdot.org]?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GaryPatterson (852699)
      I sometimes wonder about that. Every few months I check his profile, to find no new posts. Hmm...
    • He was not as informative as he seemed at the time. If you go back and review his posts, he was wrong fairly often--for example in this post [slashdot.org] where he lays out all the reasons (psychological and technical) Apple would not do a video iPod. But of course, they did do a video iPod, released not long after this post.

      He wrote well and confidently, and mimicked the Apple point of view very well. But I'd guess that he had as much connection to Apple as FSJ does.
      • by jaysones (138378)
        I didn't read it for predictions, really. It was just entertaining if you kept in mind that it wasn't gospel. I miss it.
    • IIRC he was busted by Apple management for leaking confidential info here and shown the door. That sucks, but so do comprehensive confidentiality agreements as conditions for employment.

      Tell me if I'm wrong about this, I'd certainly like to be.

  • There's quite a semantic difference between being a senior editor at Forbes and being the senior editor at Forbes. I bet there's a difference in salary too.
  • Forbes sponsorship (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sneeper (182316)
    Looks like Forbes is capitalizing on the fact that it's one of their own. They are going to officially sponsor the blog on Forbes.com now.

    Fake Steve Jobs comes clean [forbes.com]
    Forbes' phone interview with Daniel Lyons [forbes.com] (has annoying commercials)
  • Dan Lyons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by snowwrestler (896305) on Monday August 06, 2007 @12:19AM (#20127129)
    I wonder how many /. readers are going to look at the FSJ posts about "freetards" in a different light now that they know it was Dan Lyons behind the keyboard? This is not a guy who has been well-received on Slashdot in the past.
    • He pretty much bashed everyone. The only time I think he got out of line was when he went after PJ at groklaw. It makes sense now, but it's even sleazier knowing it was Lyons. He shouldn't have let a personal grudge that was not in character into the blog. One might say that she's fair game because she's a public figure, but it just didn't fit and it was cowardly to hide behind his FSJ persona.

      His freetard posts are pretty funny. If you don't think so, it could be because you take yourself and the FSF much
      • by rs232 (849320)
        Does anyone see nothing wrong in a professional journalist using a fake anonymous blog to post garbage like this.

        'Freetards in deep denial ..'

        "Freetard fails to notice the huge hole in his argument which is that -- imagine Sam Kinison screaming now -- fucking Linux is fucking free you fucking idiot! Linux is even cheaper than Windows"

        "Think, jackass. Why is it okay for IBM and its Linux puppets to give software away free but not Microsoft?2

        "And you guys are starting to sound like the world's biggeest whiner
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          You're not suggesting that The Secret Diary is professional journalism, are you? Or are you suggesting that a person can only do one job? Once you work as a journalist, you are not allowed to engage in any other sort of work? Help me out here. I want to assume that you're intelligent and not, uh, you know, free . . . =)

          And other than the abusive language, what fault do you find with his reasoning? Perhaps you find the name calling so offensive that you don't even want to try and decipher his point. Fair en
          • by rs232 (849320)
            "You're not suggesting that The Secret Diary is professional journalism, are you? .."

            No, I say that the secret diary was done by a professional journalist with an agenda. Someone else don't agree with the 'humour' either.

            Why I Don't Think Dan Lyons is Funny [chattablogs.com]
            • No, I say that the secret diary was done by a professional journalist with an agenda. Someone else don't agree with the 'humour' either.

              Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're out to get you. I guess. Also, humor is subjective, so it's no surprise that some do not see humor where others do. However, the link you provided is a criticism of Lyons' other blog, so I don't see how it is apropos.

              I still don't understand your argument against The Secret Diary. So, Lyons is a professional journalist with an agenda by day. By night, he's Fake Steve Jobs. Are you proposing that Batman shouldn't be allowed to be Batman because he's really B

              • What Bruce Wayne does for relaxation has no bearing on the Fake Lyons blog, unless he's given to wearing a pair of Steve Jobes spotted undies [artthrob.co.za] while thus engaged. Please don't tell us about your other hobby.

                was: Re:Dan Lyons (Score: weird)
  • ...but how do so many /. readers tag articles with the same seemingly random tags? example: the article before this one is tagged "ohnoitsroland" and the first article today about WoW is tagged "handdrawngames" how?
  • [Pantomime Steve Jobs appers]
    Pantomime Steve Jobs: iHello, everyone!
    Bigels: Back in the closet, you pantomime CEO person!
    [Pantomime Steve Jobs, still waving, walks backwards back into closet]
    [Real Zonk appears]
    Bigels: Begone, you pantomime editor person!
    [Bigels thwacks Zonk with big foam cluebat]
    [Zonk runs off in tears, with kdawson close behind, licking Zonk's posterior]
  • by didlybom (608643) on Monday August 06, 2007 @01:34AM (#20127357) Homepage
    I believe I was the first one to write a fake Steve Jobs' blog. I stopped when it reached the top 5 results for a 'steve jobs' search and Apple's legal department contacted me. http://web.archive.org/web/20040102222820/http://j ustonemorething.com/ [archive.org]
  • Shilling for MICROS~1

    'In other words: The cat-lady personal-injury [forbes.com] lawyer in Iowa who's been running the shakedown on Microsoft finally decided to take the money and scoot'

    Shilling for SCO ..

    "the Free Software Foundation doesn't want royalties--it wants you to burn down your house [forbes.com], or at the very least share it with cloners"

    Providing a unique interpretation of GPL licensed code ..

    "For the past two years Fleury's company, Atlanta, Ga.-based JBoss, has been stealing business from IBM (nyse: IBM
  • L. Detweiler created the theory called the Snakes of Medusa [interesting-people.org] that large numbers of anonymous identities were being created, called tentacles [jargon.net], and that these snakes were conspiring with each other for nefarious purposes.

    Some cypherpunks [jargon.net] discovered that Detweiler was using his own theories, and that he had several tentacles of his own.

    This incident confirms the Detweiler theory.

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