Column: Facebook fraud and Theresa Kipping: The sucker's story

In this (potentially) final installment of my column, I'm here to expose an Internet scheme that I was the victim of last year. In the nearly eight months that have passed, I have yet to speak out on my side of the story. The perpetrators and other indirect victims have all taken a turn to voice their feelings on the situation, so I feel it's now my turn.

So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to a young, imaginary lady, who I'll now re-rename to protect her fake identity, as Theresa Kipping.

Theresa was the brainchild of two of my best friends here at MU. They found it funny that my now-ex-girlfriend from Michigan used to add everyone at MU that I was friends with, even when I barely knew the people that she added, so they decided to create a fake Theresa Kipping to see if she would add her.

My friends carefully crafted Theresa's profile. They tagged pictures of red-haired girls when you would only see the back of their heads, added most of our friends, and continued to post "inside jokes" to friends of ours who had discovered the fraud but decided to play along.

Theresa slowly developed into a hyperbolized party girl, whose shameless antics were brushed off with an air of nonchalance and general gangsterism.

Oddly enough, Theresa never got that much-desired Friend request. But the experiment, and Theresa, took on completely different lives of their own as the friend request-free months continued.

When my friends created Theresa, they didn't bother to tell me. I added her as a friend, as most of my other friends did, but it took me a little (OK, a lot) longer than most to figure out that she wasn't real.

Thanks to my relationship, I didn't hit as many (almost any) parties with my friends last year. Since partying was Theresa's forte, we hadn't crossed paths for a couple months, and I almost got suspicious for a day or so, but eventually just ended up dismissing the thought. By second semester she had “moved in to Alpha Delta Pi," so I took that as reason enough that I wasn't seeing her.

This same general line of deception and uncharacteristic gullibility on my part continued on through spring, when I decided to leave Facebook for the summer. At this point, my friend's realized that Theresa's reason for existence was at stake, so they decided to enlighten (read: mentally destroy) me.

So after almost an entire school year, one of the Facebook presences I was so used to seeing on my newsfeed was now nothing more than a gigantic inside joke among all my friends EXCEPT me. Over the course of the year, word started to get around, but my friends thought it'd be funny to see how long they could keep it from me.

For a few minutes I was so confused as to why/how they did it, and one of my other friends even blogged to decry the fraud as a malicious abuse of my friendship, but I wasn't upset. I laughed. I haven't felt that stupid in a really long time. I probably won't feel that stupid ever again.

Sure, it's my friends' fault for getting so many people in on the joke to keep me confused all year, but it's my fault for interacting with someone I'd never met once over such a long period of time.

But at the same time, maybe it's Facebook's fault for perpetuating a system where such interactions are normal. Let's face it — no one even really talks to more than about 15 percent of their Facebook friends on a regular basis, if that. So yet again, maybe it's our fault for Facebooking the way we do.

Either way, as soon as I'm done writing this sentence, I'm going to send a relationship request to Theresa, just so that whenever anyone asks me about her, I can say "it's complicated."

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