Buckle up — this Twitter thread is a wild ride.
A serial plagiarist was caught in a lie — really, many lies — after making up a fake story for an Instagram caption, and it shines a light on the harassment women in tech face.
In a now-deleted post, a software developer Tee Medlin — supposed software developer, since who knows what‘s true anymore — claimed that a woman who was pictured but not named was stalking him during a tech conference.
“Has not stopped following me around, asking me questions, and telling me about her life since I got off stage this evening,” read his caption. “Now its social hour and I have a shadow. HELP!”
Except it was all fake. Condon had never met Medlin, and the photo was taken from an article she wrote three years ago.
When a Twitter follower asked if the photo was of her, Condon thought she had been included in another round-up list of women in cryptocurrency because “it felt click-baity.”
“Once I read the caption and saw the comment, I was furious,” she said in a private message exchange. “As a woman online and in tech shitty things are said/commented about me all the time — but this was a whole new level of WTF-ery that I had not experienced yet.”
In comments on the post, Medlin stuck to his story.
“There are a lot of folks on Twitter saying ‘This must be a bot!‘ and ‘He‘s AI!,‘ but as someone working in tech with a pretty good knowledge [of] the advancements in ML/AI, sadly we‘re not there yet,” Condon said. “This is just a very mentally disturbed person who has somehow developed a persona in the last 5-ish years.”
And as the Twitter thread unpacks, we learn that Medlin‘s “persona” runs deep — dude‘s been plagiarizing all over Instagram and social media. From taking credit for another developer‘s talk to pretending that he was interviewed in a robotics publication, on screen, Medlin made himself appear to be a major player in tech.
And he has a habit of posting stock photos and news footage to make up bizarre self-congratulatory stories in his social media captions.
Twitter users also dug into Medlin‘s Pinterest account, where he claimed to hang out with the most bizarre group of public figures. Is there any person who‘s friends with both Mitt Romney and Seth Rogen?
The Rogen photo turned out to be something other than a Photoshop, in fact. As it turned out, this is just a wax replica of the actor, as seen at the Hollywood Wax Museum.
To add to the wild ride, another Twitter user pointed out that Medlin‘s dog is also named Chloe — though that‘s probably just a coincidence.
Although Condon says she usually takes people‘s online presence “with a grain of salt,” the bizarre experience has also made her “much more careful” about who she‘s willing to meet. The whole thing has also put her “in a spiral of questioning of how deeply someone could make up their career, family, accolades, credentials, etc.”
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.)
On Sunday, Condon filed a police report against Tee Medlin. When asked how she thinks social networks could prevent blatant plagiarism and harassment like this, Condon emphasized the importance of calling out lies.
“What‘s funny is that i have personally known several individuals who have been pathological liars,” she said, nodding to a theater peer who would constantly lie about the strangest things. “Looking back, I‘m now realizing that none of us ever called him out on it — we just watched it all unfold and talked about it on our drives home.”
Several people who claimed to know Medlin personally DM‘d Condon to tell her he‘s lied like this for “as long as they‘ve known him.”
“I think the pure happenstance that he posted this photo of me, and I was alerted of it, and that my followers started investigating is pretty surreal,” she reflected.
It appears that Medlin has been stopped — for now. But Condon is still wary of the way people present themselves on social media. And if this Medlin character is really just some kind of weird, rogue AI, she‘s impressed.
“However, if I‘m wrong, and this is very good AI- congrats to whoever built it because this is groundbreaking work, my friend,” Condon quipped.
With additional reporting by Adam Rosenberg.