The reader’s comments section on the Guardian web site is known as ‘below the line’ (BTL), and lots of weird and wonderful things go on there. This week, though, there was quite a surprise and it revolved around a poster who used the name, ‘TheIneffableSwede’. Ineffable joined the Guardian comments section in September 2012 and was a prolific commentator, often writing very long and detailed posts. Her written English was excellent and what she said was almost always interesting, and most times very witty. I’ve been commenting on Guardian articles for quite a while now and I often encountered Ineffable (particularly on big news stories, which this summer included the Snowden revelations). From personal details she gave out in many of her posts, it seemed as though she was a young Swedish girl who had got a degree in economics at Berkeley in California and now studied at the London School of Economics. She had lived in eleven countries and spoke five languages. Ineffable was highly intelligent, very sassy and an apparent Marxist. To give you a flavour of Ineffable, here she is earlier this year talking about her online dating experience. Ineffable used various pics of herself on her Guardian profile, and most of them showed a cliche Scandanavian blonde bombshell. This is a typical example:
Not surprisingly, Ineffable attracted a lot of attention from guys in the comment section, and in mid August, fed-up with snide comments and online stalkers, she said she was no longer reading or commenting on the Guardian web site. But it wasn’t the end of Ineffable, because a few days later I came across her again on Guardian comments, but under a different guise: this time she purported to be a young woman who lived in California (I knew it was Ineffable because of the syntax in her posts, and because of some of the things she said, which would have come straight out of the mouth of her previous incarnation).
Up until this point I had taken Ineffable to be more or less what she had presented herself as: a young, shy, misanthropic, very bright and somewhat egotistical Swedish girl called Veronika (in real life I have encountered such prodigies, and Veronika certainly ticked all the boxes). The new guise as a California gal was perhaps understandable, what with all the online stalkers. However, California gal, who was a prolific poster, lasted not much more than a month. Then, towards the end of September, TheIneffableSwede appeared on the Guardian again, and has been her usual prolific self right up until this week.
So why, dear reader, am I telling you this story about what is apparently mundane stuff..? It’s because earlier this week the Swedish Metro newspaper published a long expose called Who is Veronika? which was about the TheIneffableSwede:
For six years, the young Swede Veronika Larsson used social media to get into political discussions, books, respected newspapers and casual chitchat. But there was always something off about her. Today, Metro tells the strange story about Veronika.
Veronika Larsson apparently does not exist. The person behind TheIneffableSwede stole the physical identity of a young Californian girl called Tiffany Olson, by Friending her on MySpace back in 2007 and then on Facebook, thus giving access to photos that Tiffany posted over the years (the photo further up this post is of Tiffany, not Ineffable). You can find Tiffany’s Facebook page here (you need to have a Facebook account to see it). If you look on Tiffany’s timeline for a 1st October post you can find her reaction to the Metro story about Veronika Larsson; and here’s a link to the Metro expose:
Who is Veronika?
Following this week’s expose in the Metro newspaper, Ineffable has removed just about all of her online presence, and no longer posts on the Guardian (although her profile page and all the posts she’s made are still there). In the last day someone using the name ‘TheIneffableSwede’, and with the same profile pic, has opened an account on Twitter, promoting the Metro article, but who knows if it’s really the same person.
So who is ‘TheIneffableSwede’? From my own dealings with this person I would say that they are a ‘her’ rather than a ‘he’, and it’s someone who’s very sensitive/passionate/volatile; someone much older than they purported to be, and on the extreme left of politics. I also think that she is really Swedish. As to the bio that Ineffable presented, it might be fictional yet she really did know her stuff when it came to economics; likewise with politics and history. It was this indepth knowledge that made her convincing to many of us.
She certainly had the Guardian staff fooled, and for a time she had me fooled. Jack Werner, the journo who wrote the Metro newspaper expose, hints that he knows Ineffable’s real identity. Ineffable and I sort of hit it off during our online encounters on the Guardian, and I also think I might know who she really is.
The problem is, anyone who exposes Ineffable’s real identity will probably get their arse sued-off.