Fake Steve: Techmeme uber-troll

Due to a surfeit of Christmas parties, I missed much of the Fake Steve Jobs takedown frenzy, in which the writer — otherwise known as Daniel Lyons of Forbes — claimed in a series of posts that Apple was trying to shut down his blog. I realize it’s easy for me to claim that I saw through the whole thing, since it’s all over now, but I must admit that even when I saw the headlines I had a suspicion we were being played like a prize trout.

I’m not sure I would describe Fake Steve’s trolling for sympathy as “brilliant,” as my friend Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 has, but it’s obvious Lyons knew he could get a huge amount of mileage out of such a rumour in the slow-news runup to Christmas. Fake Steve has continued to try and play the game, but his latest post — in which he describes an Apple lawyer offering him $500,000 to close the blog, and refers to his lawyer as Tony Clifton — is just too hard to believe.

First of all, there’s no way he would have been offered that much, and the addition of Tony Clifton as his lawyer is the capper, since that was the name of an alter ego character that comedian Andy Kaufman used. There’s a picture of Kaufman in the post too, getting beaten up by a female wrestler (some of his favourite gags involved wrestlers, including an infamous David Letterman appearance).

I’ll give Scoble some credit — he caught on fairly quickly, and so did Engadget, which pointed out that all the talk about Apple going after Lyons personally didn’t make much sense, considering he is employed by Forbes. Other skeptics included Steven Hodson of Winextra, as well as Shel Israel and to some extent ParisLemon. But it took others awhile to get the joke, including my friend Karoli and James Robertson (at least briefly).

A desperate cry for attention on Fake Steve’s part? I wonder. For awhile now I’ve been wondering how much longer FS could continue, now that everyone is in on the joke. Can a blog based on satire continue to work once everyone knows who’s behind it? I’m not sure. But when you have to resort to lashing out at the likes of yours truly — as FS did when I wrote my Think Secret post — maybe it’s time to turn out the lights.

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