YouTube phenom Lonelygirl15 revealed as hoax

lonelygirl15.jpgYouTube star “Lonelygirl15,” who claimed to be a quirky homeschooled teenager named Bree, turns out to be Jessica Rose, a 21-year-old film actress and the product of a creative agency that intends to make a movie out of the whole ordeal, the New York Times reports.

For those who haven’t followed this story, Lonelygirl15 is a YouTube video blogging star who has racked up hundreds of thousands of views and an enormous fan base. The premise of the story is that she is being raised by strict parents, but is able to use a video camera to talk about her innermost feelings, often including an ugly purple sock puppet. However, the discovery of a trademark application on “lonelygirl15” prior to the actual upload of the videos sparked a nationwide manhunt for the vlogger’s true identity.

On my part, I hope this is a stark lesson to people about the potential for exploitation of user-generated content by commercial enterprises. While openness is a key element of Web 2.0, I can’t help but question whether such openness is attainable in the long run with the growing amount of spam and lies out there.

Other examples include the mind-bending growth of spam blogs, or splogs, that comprise much of the “growing blogosphere,” as well as the use –or overuse– of MySpace for commercial promotion (plus, it has been alleged in a recent story that MySpace was itself started by people well-versed in the spam industry, not out of a garage or any such thing).

Pessimistic? Perhaps. But it’s a discussion we need to start having more amidst all the exuberance about newspapers using Web 2.0. In a crowded online media market, the trust of our readers is of paramount concern.

Author: Danny Sanchez

Danny Sanchez is the Audience Development Manager at Tribune's and Danny has been with Tribune since 2005 in a variety of editorial, digital and product development roles in Hartford, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. He has also previously worked in the newsrooms of the Tampa Bay Times and The Miami Herald.

2 thoughts on “YouTube phenom Lonelygirl15 revealed as hoax”

  1. I’m still not convinced the “Jessica Rose” angle isn’t part of the plot. Doesn’t it seem to easy to create a MySpace page and then delete it to fuel the conspiracy theories? Amazing amount of publicity it’s getting though, eh? Funny how that works out.

  2. It is indeed incredible how this blew up. I’m not sure these folks counted on being investigated by the likes of the New York Times and the L.A. Times. Those are some big guns for a YouTube hoax. It’s also entertaining to see all the response videos, which range from “I told you so” to conveying hostility and sadness.

    The mystery on my mind is whether YouTube was in on it. After all, “lonelygirl15” appeared on its front page almost from the get-go. Hmmmm. Just a conspiracy theory at this point, but then again, who can really vouch for the YouTube posse?

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