Friday, December 18, 2009

Twitter Troll

We had emails from readers wanting us to verify the death of a little boy two days ago, but by the time we saw the emails, the death had sadly been confirmed.

Since then, we have had comments about a "Twitter Troll" Madison McGraw who seems "hellbent on destroying this boy's mom", according to one reader.

The time line we have is: the mother, Shellie, was twittering from 5:17 to 5:22 about chickens in her yard, while cleaning the coup. According to police, she had asked her 11-year-old son to take the 2-year-old, Bryson, into the house while she was cleaning, and before she began twittering. She went inside to find Bryson missing.

At 5:23, the older son called 911, when they found the toddler at the bottom of the pool. Bryson was taken by ambulance to the hospital at 5:55. His mother arrived shortly after, and sent a twitter at 6:13 to her over 5,000 twitter friends letting them know her son needed prayers, that he had fallen into the pool. The little boy was pronounced dead around 6, and his mother was notified at 6:30.

The police have determined that her using twitter did not contribute to the child's death. However, most major news sources have picked up the story, and the ongoing debate on whether or not her twitters about her son's accident and his death were appropriate.

On Twitter, the debate also included the amount the mother twittered - between 70 and 80 twitters in nine hours, with two children home that day. In particular, one user, MadisonMcGraw, has taken a particular interest in this, and has been sent to us as a "Twitter Troll."

Originally we were asked to expose Madison McGraw's true identity, as she has spoken to all the media under the pen name, and blogs and twitters under several monikers, but never her real name. That has been discovered as well - she's Laura Freed, of PA. Hiding behind a pen name when making such accusations after the death of a toddler is certainly, indisputably trollish.

We were also asked to just have her recognized as a troll, but there seems to be some debate about whether or not her arguments are valid, the reason behind her continuing to push her agenda (she is a little-known author, and links to articles back to her site), and the reason she would persecute a mother after such a loss.

On the other hand, people are questioning how much is too much in regards to the number of twitters posted, how much focus was on Twitter instead of on the child who died, and the use of Twitter right after a death.

We have our opinions, but they're not cut-and-dry. Instead, we are posting this as a sounding board for those readers who emailed us, so they can discuss it outside of Twitter.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Night Funny

Some readers sent us a post by Gina. She's an Autistic genius now, don'tcha know:

"I am on the autism spectrum (high functioning, genius really) and I do eventing."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kelsey Smith is back....

And claiming it's all rumors, and that she feels like she's back in high school:
"Sometimes, life is hard. I have rewritten and reworked that sentence hundreds of times today each time coming back to my computer and changing this or that. After all the change I am back to where I started, life is hard. It was never meant to be easy, it is supposed to challenge us every single day so we continue to grow within ourselves and within the Lord.

"Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain." (Isaiah 40:4)

When we make a straight path to our hearts for the Lord our challenges and our life will become delightful.

Many of my old readers know that I left "blog land", it has been about a year since and every day I questioned that decision that I made and I think at the time it was the proper decision for myself. There were nasty rumors traveling around and cruel comments being said that shook me to my core.

On my blog I am funny, an extrovert, the person who I wish I was in real life when in truth I'm an introvert, people don't laugh at my jokes and often over look me. I am just a simple person living my life one that has been so greatly blessed. Yet, as rumors and cruel comments started to be spread about myself, my family and my life I was consumed with what people had to say. Every comment stung me to the core.

I felt as if I was in high school, again, I called over my friend and she told me that there was no reason to let this consume me they were unkind untrue words, and unlike "real life" I could simple shut this "bad" part out of my life by click a red button. Which is exactly what I did. I decided it was in my best interest of myself and my families that I close my blog and move on from this chapter in my life.

The last year was a growing experience for me in every way. I have become more of the person I was online in real life, I have grown in the Lord and prioritized my life. After much thought I have decided that I am going to reopen my blog because it is exactly that my blog. It is a scrapbook of my life and my families life, one that deserves to be and needs to be kept.

I may not have the perfect life or be the perfect person but my life is sweet and that's all I ever wanted it to be. And without further ado here are the three children who make this blog everything it is, three children who look like they have been blasted into the future and even I don't know how it happened."

She would know what it's like to be in high school, since she's still there. We walk a fine line with we expose what we know? Or not? Because she's not legally an adult yet.

On the other hand, this is how Gina started. We have evidence she was online scamming people from 16 years old, younger than Kelsey.

We will contact BlogHer, but should we contact her parents? How about her church instead? She's a kid with a fake life on a blog...why should there be repercussions for that? How about if she's pretending to be the guardian of the children she is just babysitting? What would you mothers out there want done?

For now, we leave you with a link to her blog in the Wayback Machine. It should provide enough information to prove she's not 32/34 (she can't remember from site-to-site) and that these children aren't hers in a "foster arrangement."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Blind Faith

We have had emails and comments about a well-known blogger this week - one whose skeletons seem to be surfacing. She has people yelling "TROLL!", so we looked at everything we were sent and could verify, and felt we needed to comment on the rumors, especially on the domestic abuse.

Because we don't feel the blogger is a troll and because of the personal nature of the information in this post, we're not comfortable disclosing the name of the blogger here.

The blogger in question has unseemly things in her past that have just surfaced in the last week or so. But why should she be required to share them with her readers? There isn't a written etiquette on how much a person is required to share, and we didn't find any outright lies in her posts.

That said, this blog serves as another example that readers should take what they read online with a grain of salt, sometimes more.

For those who asked if there was truth in the rumors, we have verified that this blogger's house is indeed in foreclosure, and her husband has been arrested and was sentenced for domestic violence, among other things, while married to her. They do have a large tax lien as well. She is not faking her son's condition. These things are verifiable.

We touched on exaggeration with Nancy Bratt and it hit a nerve, so we won't go into our thoughts on if we think she has exaggerated her son's condition or used it to push people to her site for money when he was ill.

Outside of that, she does traffic people to her blog. She encourages them in different ways to click many times to her blog and through her blog. She also states in a recent post that she considers herself a professional blogger. As a professional blogger, having high traffic and clicks is good business practice.

She makes money off her blog, and she admits it. This doesn't make her a troll to us.

But with as "open" as the blogger appears to be, most of the comments we had were concerned more with how she appears to be happy-go-lucky while she's actually suffering privately in different ways. She's not required to share her suffering, but we can understand why an always happy lifestyle when such hardships have been unearthed would rattle people.

Not everything is as it seems on any blog, and readers should keep that in mind, especially before taking any blogger's advice to heart. You wouldn't want to take financial or business advice from a person with tax liens or whose business had failed. The same should apply in other areas as well.

Our biggest concern with the blog in question is the domestic violence piece. The blogger never mentions it and we can't fault her with that. There are understandably some things a person would not want to share with all the Internet.

However, we heartily believe that before a person whose spouse has served time for domestic violence offers marital advice, they should supply full disclosure.

This would seem even more important when the advice is as controversial and, from what we have read, counter-intuitive to DV as submissive wife principles.

NO domestic abuse information or expert supports a wife becoming more submissive after domestic violence, and for a national blogger to praise these methods as saving her marriage after abuse could be detrimental to other women with marital and spousal abuse issues who read the blog.

Equally as concerning is her take that the problems were her fault for not being more submissive. No spouse deserves abuse for any reason. Period.

What does it mean to be a Submissive Wife

Biblical Battered Wife Syndrome: Christian Women and Domestic Violence

What Mistakes do Churches Make About Domestic Abuse?
"Pastors and leaders need to emphasize that submission does not mean acceptance of disrespect and abuse in a marriage relationship."

We have no opinion on the submissive wife way of life outside of how it could affect a woman in a relationship with a history of domestic violence.

But please, before following the advice of any blogger, seemingly happy and doing well or not, please consult a real-life professional who has been trained in that area.

Domestic Abuse Helpline

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The McDonald Five

Last weekend another blogger also made headline news for her distressing story about her very real child.

23-year-old Emily McDonald of Austin was arrested for injury to a child - her daughter, Dakota. Dakota has been in and out of the hospital since her premature birth three years ago. McDonald blogged several times a week (and sometimes several times a day) about her three children, but mostly about her youngest daughter's roller coaster ride of ongoing health problems on her blog, The McDonald Five.

McDonald also wrote an article about her experiences with her two younger children's prematurity.

When Dakota did not recover while in the hospital and blood cultures showed odd results, staff became suspicious and set up a camera in the little girl's hospital room. On video they caught McDonald putting fecal matter into little Dakota's feeding tube, which is life-threatening and can cause sepsis.

According to police, "one reason she offered to us as an explanation is that it would keep her daughter sick to gain attention." We have had Munchausen by Internet described on here before, but McDonald's appears to be Munchausen by Proxy FOR Internet.

McDonald has not been diagnosed with Munchausen by Proxy, but did admit to putting feces in Dakota's tube five times during the six-week hospital stay. She has been released on bond and is not allowed contact with her three children.

A few links:

Cops: Mom put feces in tot's IV

Mom Taints Child's Feeding Tube with Feces

Recent posts from McDonald's blog

KXAN Excerpts from McDonald Five blog

Thank you to J for the heads up on this.

An apology from Beushausen

Beccah Beushausen has posted an apology here. It additionally offers a list of reasons/excuses, but also inconsistencies, such as stating she has not been online, or reading blogs/message boards. This is untrue. She has been to this site many times, and she has used one of her pseudonyms to comment on at least one other site as late as Tuesday.

Knowing that there are at least two falsehoods (and we have received emails suggesting a handful of others), please read with a grain of salt.

There is no comment on the help she is receiving, but she is home and no longer at a psychiatric facility. Beushausen is young, the same age as Gina Fiorentino, and our hope is that she gets the help she needs now and sets herself up for a life that she (and family and friends) can be proud of.

EDIT: Welcome to our readers from The Gibson Twins! Brianne did such a wonderful job of web sleuthing and outting this story, and we're happy to be associated with her in all this.

We have had some emails regarding Beccah closing comments and people still wanting to contact her. You can email her here at her personal email address.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Calling out mistakes

According to a post on the Chicago Tribune article, the NASW wants everyone to know Beushausen is not a social worker. Apparently they're not happy having her name attached to their profession. Wonder why?

I would like to point out that Beccah Beushausen, the woman identified in your article in today's Chicago Tribune "Bloggers Baby was a Hoax" is NOT a social worker. She is not licensed in the State of Illinois as a social worker and is not a member of the National Association of Social Workers. We would appreciate if this was noted as a correction in your paper.

Joel L. Rubin, MSW, CAE - Executive Director
NASW IL Chapter
404 S. Wells St. 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60607

Other errors by the journalist have been called out continuously in the over 500 comments, but no corrections yet. Unfortunately, other media sources are pulling straight from the Trib article, so misinformation on this story has been spread widely.

We have been tipped off that Beccah will be posting her "last post apology" here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Article on Beccah Beushausen

For woman who blogged about fake pregnancy, 'one lie led to another'

CHICAGO, Jun 11, 2009 (Chicago Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) -- The unmarried mother's story about giving birth to a child diagnosed as terminally ill in the womb hit a major nerve on the Internet.

Every night for the past two months, thousands of pro-life moms across the nation logged on to a blog run by the suburban Chicago woman who identified herself only as "B" or "April's Mom." People said they prayed that God would save her pregnancy. They e-mailed her photos of their children dressed in pink, bought campaign T-shirts, shared tales of personal heartache and redemption, and sent letters and gifts to an Oak Lawn P.O. Box in support.

Click link to continue reading....

Interesting tidbits from the article: Beushausen is a social worker. The article also claims "There's no evidence that Beushausen benefited financially in any significant way, or committed any crime." The keyword in that sentence being "significant," which is subjective.

If Beushausen is to be believed, the blog started as a case of classic Munchausen by Internet, but turned into a money hoax. Since she was an avid follower of other better-known bloggers whose children are ill and she spent substantial time driving readers to her site, one can only wonder which was truly the driving force - the money she saw bloggers making or the attention they were receiving?

Word on the street that is not included in the article is that Beushausen is now in a long-term mental facility seeking help.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

April Rose update

Unlike Friends of Pepe, Beccah Beushausen's April Rose blog appears to be a money scam, and a big one. Two pseudonyms are peppered all over the web by InHISTightGrip and mamarebekaah, requesting people to visit the site, which drives up page views and advertiser click thrus. At nearly a million visitors, that's a lot of loose change.

In addition to making money on this scam, and fooling hundreds of thousands of readers, this troll also took advantage of the non-profit group Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep by allowing one of their photographers to do a "maternity session."

If you are looking for posts, you can read the blog here.

Thank you to everyone for sending us information on this. We're getting it faster than we can verify and get it online. There are several sites that have already done a great job gathering information so for all the details, please visit the ones we listed below, as well as The Gibson Twins blog.

April Rose

We have had a handful of emails about a popular blogger, Beccah Beushausen, a 26-year-old woman from Lockport, Illinois, who faked being pregnant with a very ill baby (trisomy 13 and Holoprosencephaly), and then posted pictures of one very realistic-looking "reborn" doll as the miracle baby, "April Rose". She took donations and had advertisements as well.

Beccah is the owner of "See Through Me Studios", and has taught children at an art studio in New Lenox, IL in the past.

If you donated money to this person, please contact the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center or the Lockport Illinois Police.

The following are links sent to us about her story. Please feel free to add any others in our comments section.

Thank you to everyone who sent us emails about this story.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Brianna Lavey on Cafemom

This troll hasn't posted anything since November, but she has not removed her pictures either. If your children appeared on one of her other sites, please check the link above and to see if their pictures were used here as well.

We had a comment on the last post that cafemom did not do anything about a previous troll stealing images of quadruplets. Hopefully that will not be the case this time.