Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Cautionary Tale :: Blogs, Lies, and Screen Captures.

I just lost a long, long post that was supposed to have a few draft versions saved.  I guess I will have to chalk it up to the Goddess wanting me to write a slightly different post than the one I was writing. 

Mothers are people.  Are bad mothers bad people? There are bad mothers out there.  There are bad people out there too, but many people confuse people who do bad things with the much smaller set of that group of people who are bad people. That is how I began thinking about this issue this morning.  I don't believe that doing bad things makes you a bad person, necessarily.  My questions and thoughts on the following topic that were spinning about in my brain initially included:
  1.  I wonder which person in this mess is more disturbed?
  2. Why would anyone think that she could remain anonymous on the internet?
  3. Why would anyone be so happy that another person, even an adversary, was arrested? (I reserve that kind of glee for war criminal arrests, and those don't seem to be forthcoming.)
  4. Are the support sites that take one person or the others' side in this mess actually by one of the primary women waging this war.  
  5.  Boy-oh-boy the world is full of wackos!
  6. This is a classic example of why you have to be careful on the "internets machine."
  7. I love a good investigation, and this could be good.  (Comes from being a science librarian for a while.)
  8. This is sort of like what Liz talked about at BlogHer: false identities, pseudonyms, and such.  It is so: Blogs, Lies, and Screen Captures.  
  9. Sometimes I think social media black holes exist and suck people into them.
Okay, okay, I will give you some details:

It all started this morning when I went into my office to get away from 9/11 coverage.  I already wrote my piece on that and I didn't want to be sad today.  But then on TweetDeck, my all time favorite tool for non-phone tweeting, I saw these tweets which I captured in this image:
I don't know anything about the person behind @BreakingMomNews because her account was suspended shortly after I viewed these tweets.  The picture used for the account that I captured is the same one that @military_mom uses.  The snarky almost celebratory nature of these tweets reflects the tone of the blog post to which the tweet refers. Is it Laura Freed?  I don't know. ( IDK in twitter-speak.)

I did enough checking to confirm that the person arrested, henceforth Person A, probably is the same person who received a lots of media attention a while back when she tweeted immediately after her son's death and was possible/probably tweeting as her son drowned nearby.  According to a verification of identity site that I have wanted to check out, and which this gave me the rather prurient impetus/opportunity to do so, the name and alias, and places match the tweeting mother.

But then I began to wonder why this other tweeter, @BreakingMomNews (henceforth Person B), had her panties in such a bunch.  She purports to be Madison McGraw.  Something did not smell right. Being gleeful about other people's tragedies just isn't right.  It probably is not as bad as tweeting instead of watching your children, if that is indeed what happened, but it is creepy too. And am I to presume that the tweeter is the same person as the blogger.  This makes my head hurt. 

I've been thinking about identity and online privacy and Facebook | Twitter | Blog wars for a long time.

I am a writer, Semiotic Analyst, an activist who probably has an FBI file, and a long time blogger.  These are things with which many people in these aforementioned roles are concerned.   But I'm not a person who does too much self-revelation, with a couple learning moment exceptions, nor who has  close friends who I would accidentally slip privileged info to in an online, and thus public and published, conversation.  I do not tend to gossip, but I love a good story. 

This episode in a continuing, and tragically real, saga is part of a much longer story that I know about because of wanting to attend a discussion panel at BlogHer 2011 at which a blogging friend was a speaker on the topic of having your blog go viral.  Person A was listed as a speaker on that panel the first time I checked out the info on the panel discussants.  This totally sucked as I knew from my monkey watching days on Cayo Santiago Island that maternal groups will draw blood when they fight with each other.  Human mommy groups share much with monkey maternal groups although there are obvious differences... one group shares mitochondrial DNA and the other does not, for example.  (I'm gonna hear about this.  I just know it.)  By the time of the conference Person A was no longer listed as a panel participant.  Don't know why.  Didn't want to know why.  I was just pleased. 

As a survivor of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy child abuse I have radar that is always on for deception.  Man there were blips all over the screen on this one this morning.  And my general life experience has been interesting enough to have my Crazy Detector go off about the whole situation.  Losing a child is the worst thing I can think of that could happen, and to want to talk about it and have to defend yourself in public about the means of death just isn't something I can grasp.  But neither can I figure out why a personally unconnected blogger would immerse herself in posts, tweets, blogs, and media interviews about her take on Person A.  Both women here seem to have cultivated the attention that a death of a child could bring them.  That is sick.  Both women's handling of the situation share some common ground with MSBP,  which is why it caught my attention. But there is another level of bizarreness to this twitterversy: the comments on blogs and actual blogs created just to call Person B a scumbag.  But that still doesn't answer my question of whether Person B has an imposter.  Person B(1) and Person B(2).  With this latest blip in the saga, it should become a textbook case of some sort. 

I'm sure this isn't making all that much sense, so maybe a HuffPo article would help.  Here is one about Person A as most of the blogs and Twitter accounts are no longer online, although if you are so inclined the wayback machine might take you to previous captures of the sites from the web. There are tons, and I mean thousands of references to the hate-machine that raged against Madison McGraw/Laura Freed.  This is a fairly simple and good account of the mess.

But now there is this whole other level of an unverified person tweeting as though they are Madison McGraw/Laura Freed.  I can't imagine that this person wants more bad p.r.  But maybe I am naive.  

You should never trust anything, absolutely nothing, without verification. Check your facts.   I've always been like that.    A guy I really cared about in college got mad at me cause I checked out his father in Who's Who in Politics to see if he really was who he said he was or if he was trying to impress me.  He was legit.  Sometimes I still wish I would not have done that and p.o.ed that boy.  Oh, well... water under the bridge and I still check out facts.  Facts are just data points.  Information is when you have enough data points to draw distinctions and infer meaning.

I have no new information or insight about this whole bizarre chain of events other than to present it as a cautionary tale.  I think Laura should stick with being Moxie.  This Moxie persona doesn't seem vengeful, and has a good schtick - a blog about food based on food from novels she writes.  Maybe she learned her lesson.  Of course if Laura is connected to @breakingmomnews, and that is a big if, then she hasn't learned much.... unless she really just wants the publicity saying any publicity is good publicity.

The Jumpers onto Bandwagons on both sides give me the creeps.  Having read all the comments I could stomach from 2009 I am sadly disappointed in most people and how willing they are to draw conclusions, and negative ones at that, with little or no real information about a situation.  I think most bloggers and nearly all BlogHers are better people than those that vilified, hurled insults at, and acted as though they knew either of the adult women centered in this controversy and tragedy. 

Oh, it is not just online that you have to be careful.  Remember that. As I learned on the X Files: "Trust No One!"  This does not mean rag on them, as a folk singer friend says/sings:  We are all born with a bit of God/Good in our hearts. 

SCORE CARD:  (You can't tell the players without one.)

Person A  (verified using one of those online identity verification sites to which you subscribe)

Real Name:Shellie D. Schnell
Pseudonyms:  Shellie D. Ross
Twitter Accounts:  @Military_Mom 
Blogs & Blogonyms:
Other:  She really was arrested in FL at the end of August for outstanding warrants in OH.  Something to do with child support, I think.   Or maybe skipping out on debt, I'm not sure. 

Person B (1)
Real Name: 
Twitter Accounts:  @BreakingMomNews (Twitter account has been suspended.)

Blogs & Blogonyms:

Person B (2) 

Real Name: Laura Freed
Pseudonyms: Madison McGraw, Moxie Baker
Twitter Accounts:  (I think the @MadisonMcGraw currently up on Twitter is a fake account.)
Blogs & Blogonyms:,

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