The tables turned big time on a supposed software developer posting under the identity “Tee Medlin” on Friday after he sent an Instagram post accusing Microsoft senior cloud developer advocate Chloe Condon of stalking him at a conference—something that never occurred—and other social media users quickly discovered that much of Medlin’s online persona reeks of plagiarism and fakery.
As Mashable reported, in the now-deleted Instagram post, Medlin claimed to be attending some sort of unspecified tech conference and uploaded a photo of Condon, who he did not identify by name, with a caption suggesting police should be notified if he goes missing. He further alleged that Condon “Has not stopped following me around, asking me questions, and telling me about her life since I got off stage this evening. Now its social hour and I have a shadow. HELP!”
Condon, who wrote in a post on Medium that she had been alerted to the Instagram post via a Twitter follower on Jan. 11, 2018, had never seen Medlin before. Medlin’s photo was in fact ripped from a years-old article Condon had published on NewCo (astonishingly, about what it is like to be a woman attending predominantly male tech conferences).
“Wow. I’ve been harassed online before, but @teemedlin- I have no idea who you are, nor was I at a conference/meet-up/event w/ you 4 days ago,” she tweeted alongside a screenshot of the Instagram post. “Lying about this is next level- also, ++ photo is from my @NewCo article I published years ago/from a conference 3 years ago. Get a life.”
As Mashable wrote, Medlin initially stuck to his side of the story in comments on Instagram—but other Twitter users understandably perturbed by the situation eventually began to unravel other very suspicious swathes of his online very-important-tech-guy persona in the thread below Condon’s tweet.
Like, a ton of them. The apparent fictions included everything from “taking credit for another developer’s talk to pretending that he was interviewed in a robotics publication, on screen,” as well plagiarizing other images taken from stock sites or news stories for use on social media, Mashable wrote.
In one post, Medlin seems to have taken a photo with a wax replica of actor Seth Rogen at the Hollywood Wax Museum (or simply manipulated one he found online), posting it with a caption saying he met Rogen at a “charity golf tourney and ball in LA a few years back.” That prompted the comedian himself to respond to the ever-growing Twitter thread documenting Medlin’s social media history, writing, “This dude is nuts.” Another post, this time on Pinterest, purported to show Medlin with Republican politician Mitt Romney.
Medlin eventually deleted his Twitter account and dubiously claimed on Facebook he had been hacked “by (we believe) a disgruntled past emoloyee [sic] or coworker,” Mashable wrote, as well as “revamped” his Instagram:
Since the thread went viral, Tee Medlin has deleted his Twitter account and appears to have revamped his Instagram account as well. Before doing so, he tweeted that his account was hacked and claimed that someone else was accusing Condon of stalking them.
On Facebook, he posted about a “disgruntled past employee or coworker” hacking his account and complained about getting cyberbullied. (To be clear, whatever this guy did, bullying of any kind is bad. Don’t add to the wrongs done here. The authorities are handling things now.)
As Condon wrote in the Medium post, “I in no way want to ruin this guy’s life,” but the incident demonstrated “that sometimes being a woman on the internet can be a full-time job.” With her job as a developer advocate requiring her to be actively engaged in content creation, face-to-face meetings, and social media, Condon added, she faced all kinds of online harassment regularly:
In the past, I’ve dealt with everything from men commenting on online videos of me saying I should “get a tan”, I’ve been DMed creepy messages on Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram/etc. with messages like “hi”, “nice smile you got there”, and “your beautiful” (I usually respond “ *you’re ”, on that last one), and have even stumbled upon entire forum posts about me and how as a woman with a non-traditional background I’m unqualified to work in tech. Over the last three years, I have learned to brush it off and I almost always “never read the comments” if I know they’re negative (in fact, I have a necklace and pin of the mantra). But these things add up.
... Cyber bullying and online harassment are so common these days that at a certain point I stopped reacting to the amount of inbound variations of “hey ur hott”s I get any given week.
Condon added that online harassment of women is common everywhere from DMs and LinkedIn to blog comments. It’s “often behind-the-scenes and often only seen by the women who receive them and their partners/close friends,” she wrote, and asked other men to step up and “call out this behavior if you see it happening.” She also encouraged everyone to self-examine their online interactions to be sure they were not coming across as condescending, creepy, or hurtful to others.
In a discussion via Twitter DM, Condon told Gizmodo that she had “filed a report” with the San Francisco Police Department on Sunday over safety concerns and for documentation purposes, “but as is the case with most police reports in SF—it was met with “well, you can file a report but it won’t do much good.” Condon also said she was looking into the possibility of a restraining order.
“... Imagine trying to explain to a very nice [female] police officer how a crazy dude online posted a picture of you/Seth Rogen was involved/the last 5 years of his life were untrue,” Condon told Gizmodo. “It was pretty bonkers.”
“It just seems bizarre that in 2019 we don’t have any processes in place for something as common as cyber bullying. I’m fortunate that I can afford legal representation, but when I was an office manager/actress 4 years ago I couldn’t afford it.”
“It would have been nice, at the very least, to be pointed towards some resources,” Condon told Gizmodo. “Instead, Twitter and my friends (who are women and have dealt with online harassment) gave me advice... I understand that not everyone is on social media as much as me, or comfortable posting about what happens to them online/in their DMs/etc, but I feel it’s my duty to shed light on it.”
“Women online (especially in tech) deal with harassment every day, and it takes a toll,” she concluded. “My hope in posting about my own frustrations is that others find comfort in knowing it’s not just them- that it’s a universal problem that needs to stop.”