Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, August 03, 2021

A naif-like teenaged girl makes love (figuratively) to the webcam, posts the results on the Internet, and the online crowd goes wild.

Wow, like that’s never happened before.

Still, YouTube star-in-the-making lonelygirl15 has charmed none other than the New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan, whose call for a bonafide television deal for the online phenom prompted extended back-and-forth about whether she’s legit or not.

We’ll see if the Times exposure serves to blow her cover (unlikely, since her parents’ MO is that of societal shut-ins). And once my little blog’s mojo kicks in, well, forget it — she’s all over the pop-cultural map then.

After watching her latest goofball video adventure, I’m inclined to think it’s a set-up of some sort. Yes, I realize anyone can acquire good enough equipment to create near-professional quality productions, even in a young girl’s bedroom under the noses of unsuspecting parental units. But this one looks just slick enough — with small imperfections that come off more as intentional than not. That sets off my alarm. If it’s not an organized viral marketing effort, then it’s got pro-grade talent behind it, for whatever purpose. Maybe an extended pitch for an MTV2 series?

And if it is a viral hoax in the making, maybe any subsequent TV series can have lonelygirl15 bunk up with that girl Emily.

UPDATE, 8/13/2006: Folks are going to continue to pore over visual details and other perceived slips in lonelygirl15’s clips, hoping to find that “aha!” moment.

But as far as I’m concerned, that moment’s already been revealed, per the comments below. Mention that the lonelygirl15.com fansite domain was registered a full month before the first YouTube video appeared (a claim subsequently confirmed by my quick investigation) pretty much puts it away for me. She’s a premeditated stunt; the only thing left to wonder about is, for what. I’m still betting on this being résumé work for some television production hopefuls, looking to score a job at a youth-oriented network.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/03/2021 11:29:21 PM
Category: Internet | Permalink |

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  1. Love your commentary. Been reading about her all day, but probably for slightly different reasons.

    I summarized my glee with her work: Haha, hope you enjoy.


    Comment by Tim Blatch — 08/04/2021 @ 09:07:11 AM

  2. Seriously, I’ve been watching her for weeks and I still can’t decide if she’s legit or not. The production values are just too good.

    Comment by tim — 08/04/2021 @ 01:58:28 PM

  3. You know, I just thought about something. If her parents are that strict about things, they’d never let their daughter be in her room with a boy WITH THE DOOR CLOSED.

    Hell, my parents didn’t allow that and they’re hippies.

    Comment by tim — 08/04/2021 @ 02:06:23 PM

  4. I’m already getting a good bead on lonelygirl’s audience: A lot of guys named Tim…

    I haven’t watched enough of her episodes to judge if the presence of Daniel is a premise-blowing giveaway; I’m sure plenty of debunkers have addressed it. That seems super-obvious, though.

    Comment by CT — 08/04/2021 @ 04:41:30 PM

  5. I believe she is real. First, she’s been posting videos for what, a couple of months now? She hasn’t tried to sell or push or in any way peddle any kind of product, concept, or viewpoint. Nothing.
    Also, the most recent video she made “What’d my Dad talk with Daniel about?” is what it is: a couple of kids fooling around with a video camera.
    Lastly, the post-production. It’s being edited in a consumer brand, Windows-based editing system, like Adobe Premier. NO WAY a “fake” show would be edited on a system like that.
    Another giveaway is the titling. Not only are the titles the cheap kind generated by consumer video editing, Daniel leaves them set at 100% opacity, just about any “pro” editor will turn down the opacity on titles, whether he’s pretending to be “amateur” or not. Also, if you notice, the titles are out of what would be “TV safe” range. In other words there is little hope of them showing up on screen in you wished to broadcast any of the videos on television.
    Ok, now lastly, I’ve emailed Daniel a couple of times (he’s clearly a talented editor) and he just seems like a very smart, young kid to me.
    I like the videos very much and I just think we’re so used to seeing junk on YouTube, that when a couple of smart, bored, talented kids come along and do something mildly constructive, we’re suspicious.
    If they weren’t real, we’d have to invent them.

    Comment by Chris — 08/11/2021 @ 04:16:02 AM

  6. Of course, none of those elements authenticates lonelygirl and danielbeast… You might think it’s hard for professionals to hide their tracks, but any of those points could be masks.

    Of course, none of them prove behind-the-scenes machinations either. To a degree, this is trying to prove a negative. It could be that a lot of us are frantically looking for what’s being sold undercover, when in reality, all these two are “selling” are themselves.

    I still say, though, that something’s up. Most likely some sort of TV show. Or maybe the ultimate viral effect is that the kids get offered a newly-formed TV show just on the strength of this work.

    Comment by CT — 08/11/2021 @ 01:16:17 PM

  7. Is Lonelygirl15 a fraud?

    From her bedroom, Lonelygirl15 opines on life as a homeschooled 16-year old, exploring her favorite topics in science and her budding relationship with friend and expert video editor Danielbeast. Since Lonelygirl15 began posting videos last month, sh…

    Trackback by adfreak — 08/11/2021 @ 02:57:02 PM

  8. I thought the specualtion of fakeness was just people being super cynical, but apparently the url for the fansite some supposedly random guy made for her www.lonelygirl15.com was registered like a month or two before she posted her first video on youtube, so…

    Comment by liam — 08/11/2021 @ 10:37:47 PM

  9. And here’s the link to that GoDaddy.com domain registration, which records the registration date for lonelygirl15.com at May 12, 2006. Her first YouTube appearance was on June 16th, 2006.

    I’m trying to think of a legit explanation… But I can’t. This doesn’t mean there’s a big media/corporate angle, but certainly, there’s a good amount of premeditated setup behind this — i.e., her popularity was mapped out.

    Comment by CT — 08/12/2021 @ 10:19:31 AM

  10. Nice sleuthing!

    I guess it was my meeting James “The Amazing” Randi at 17 that turned me into a permanent skeptic, but exposing this fraud is really something I’m looking forward to someone else doing.

    Comment by tim — 08/12/2021 @ 01:15:45 PM

  11. A 15 year old home-schooled girl with the talent to pull off a series like this, aided by her geek boyfriend? I don’t have a hard time believing that.

    What I don’t believe is that she did it without some sort of professional coaching/training. lonelygirl isn’t a name for someone who comes off with as much confidence in front of a camera as this. And as was pointed out in the NYT story, it’s not the editing that’s a tip-off to pro work, it’s the lighting.

    Comment by Mary — 08/12/2021 @ 11:10:54 PM

  12. In this video of theirs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zaNwg3LNRc you can see that the lamp behind them has a double shadow. So, if the light came from a window, there wouldn’t be one… and it being so bright outside, why have a lamp on?

    Comment by Ryan — 08/13/2006 @ 02:42:42 AM

  13. A good tip off is the list of music she likes. Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Indigo Girls, Aimee Mann scream 30 something. And her parents listen to Judy Garland, Johnny Mercer, Woodie Guthrie. How old are they? My parents listened to that and the’re in there 60’s….

    Comment by Ly — 08/14/2006 @ 04:30:20 PM

  14. And wouldn’t you ultimately need a credit card to purhcase the proxy server domain name registration - not that a 15-yr old can’t have a credit card/Visa debt card, but it’s just another little thing…

    Comment by Eddy — 08/15/2006 @ 08:54:23 PM

  15. and is it just me or do her eyes move back and forth like she’s reading from a script? even if not, her lines are so well written and she is so composed when delivering them. they should have thrown in a few typical video blogger pauses or ‘ums’ to throw all us sleuths off the scent. is that remark obscene?

    Comment by Darien — 08/16/2006 @ 09:08:13 AM

  16. Something I can not make up my mind about is the picture on her wall above the bookshelf. In the episode where lonelygirl tries to make Daniel tell her what her father said, he starts to light some candles below a picture of what suspiciously looks like the occultist Aleister Crowley… Look on google images. Is this part of the mysterious religion? Or is it someone really messing around with these films?

    Comment by RM — 08/16/2006 @ 07:16:26 PM

  17. But you know, I’ve been reading on other sites too, and there are some people making good points: this is youtube, this is a website were anybody can upload anything they like (almost anyway). Why do people go to such website? To entertain themselves… does it really matter if it’s staged professionally or just some teens having fun… ultimately, many people are watching it, and they aren’t even paying. I mean it is entertaining- and that’s a big part of what youtube is about…

    Comment by Ryan — 08/16/2006 @ 11:58:20 PM

  18. I think it matters because people are starting to get emotionally invested in the life of this girl, and thus it becomes almost like the Frey situation.

    Except this one is being hoisted on us by a corporation, which is way worse.

    Comment by tim — 08/17/2006 @ 11:30:10 AM

  19. I don’t believe she is professional, however, her eyebrows are *very* professional. Most of the time I’m so mesmerized that I can tolerate the ramblings of a female teenager … hated it when I was a teenager and hate it even more now.

    Comment by Eric — 08/17/2006 @ 10:39:29 PM

  20. Things Each Not Important Enough to Have Their Own Post

    … You know how, for some reason people care that that dumb Youtube girl is some sort of viral marketing thing (which you can’t even debate, she’s a terrible actress and I’m pretty sure most home-schooled girls with strict parents don’t have a professional makeup artist coming in and doing them up every day)? Well anyway, wouldn’t it be great if it was a marketing thing by some religious homeschooling organization to try and convince everyone that they’re “just like you and me”?

    Or maybe it’s a Snakes on a Plane tie-in. …

    Trackback by The 15-Minute Hipster — 08/18/2006 @ 04:08:12 PM

  21. What about the picture of Aleister Crowley??? It’s like the super conservative parents are grooming her and Daniel for something?


    Comment by Blair Witch Project?? — 08/19/2006 @ 08:36:26 AM

  22. Gurantee you it’s a marketing effort working toward an unveiling. I don’t know…call me cynical from working in New York advertising and marketing agencies, but it’s just so CLEARLY cut by a 30+ year old male.

    A big brand, a small agency, a lot of non-disclosure forms. Mark my words.

    Comment by TK — 08/20/2006 @ 01:40:37 AM

  23. Oh, wait…HERE YOU GO! A sixteen year-old girl keeping it real registers her site by proxy to protect her identity!? Uh, I’m 38, have two sites, am pretty tech savvy and the thought of registering by proxy to hide my contact infor NEVER EVEN OCCURED TO ME.

    Domains by Proxy, Inc.

    15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
    Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
    United States

    Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
    Domain Name: LONELYGIRL15.COM
    Created on: 12-May-06
    Expires on: 12-May-07
    Last Updated on: 06-Jul-06

    Administrative Contact:
    Private, Registration

    Comment by TK — 08/20/2006 @ 01:48:09 AM

  24. One of her most recent was about her upbringing: her parents supposedly moved around from Germany to New Zealand, then Australia, and back to the US — so how is it she sounds like she was born & raised in SoCal, USA?

    I’m sure she IS a fake but if it’s some marketing ploy just how would that work? Wouldn’t all her popularity evaporate the instant she revealed herself and started shilling for some product?

    Comment by mobeck — 08/20/2006 @ 10:23:10 AM

  25. re:>>’m sure she IS a fake but if it’s some marketing ploy just how would that work? Wouldn’t all her popularity evaporate the instant she revealed herself and started shilling for some product?

    mobeck — yes and no. Yeah, I hear you and my bet is that there would be something of a backlash. But chances are the people invloved figure the backlash won’t outweigh the “data capture” (how many hundreds of thousands of people have subscribed to this “Girls” youtube channel by now, I wonder?) adn the backlash won’t outweigh the nimber of people who say, “So what if it was fake. I still found it entertaining. After all, isn’t TV fake?” So agency or producers are obviously saying, well, if we get 100k people who drop off and say it was a lame fake, we’ll still have 500k fans wo we can reach with a marketing message or who we can migrate to a series on MTV where we’ll rach them with an ad message.

    That’s my bet. But like I said — I’m a littel jaded from sitting in meetings here in nyc where clients are always chomping at the bit wanting to reach the 18-25 demographic “where they live” and to do it “on their side of the street, with people their age, in the language they speak, with messages that don’t feel like a message.”

    The latest idea from one of these geniuses was, “What if we had a series of blogs online, and we didn;t brand a thing about them. The only branding message was the kid who was powering the blog had to casually mention our product once a month, and the blog would be archived by month?”

    I don’t know if lonely girl is going to turn out to be a gimmick that launches a TV series, or if it’s a gimmick that is simply developing real estate online that can be sold to advertisisers at teh peak of it’s popularity, or both, but I guarantee you it’s a gimmick.


    Comment by TK — 08/20/2006 @ 03:34:01 PM

  26. yikes, sorry for all the typos.

    Comment by TK — 08/20/2006 @ 03:36:23 PM

  27. Part of me really believes she is a fake because…well, it all seems to add up from things I’ve read or videos I’ve watched. I don’t know a lot about production with videos and everything so I have to trust that the people who are saying she uses professional lighting and other techniques are telling the truth. But I do have to say, that speaking from an average viewer’s point of view, the fight video sounded completely scripted to me. I don’t know if that’s me being weird of what, but…well, that’s how it sounded.

    But then a part of me doesn’t think she could be a fake because of the first video she posted. I don’t know why, it just seems like because of that maybe she isn’t…but then again, why not? She talks about another user, paytotheorderofofof, in her second video saying that’s why she wanted to join and that makes me believe she isn’t a fake all over again.

    It feels like a cycle to me.

    Comment by India — 08/21/2006 @ 12:27:35 PM

  28. Me used to think LG15’s vids were bogus ’til the 4-letter words suddenly got introduced…. first in an intro song and eventually by Bree herself. That’s not something that would fly on MTV or WB or any of the youth-aimed networks. If Bree wants cred, she’s getting it wholesale everytime she drops an f-bomb.

    Comment by roger_wilk_0 — 08/21/2006 @ 12:42:03 PM

  29. Lonelygirl15 jumps the shark

    Well, it was fun while it lasted. I kind of enjoyed believing that the saga of lonelygirl15 and danielbeast was the real deal. Having directed a faux documentary myself, I always enjoy seeing people do new things with the form…

    Trackback by Brian Flemming — 08/21/2006 @ 02:26:55 PM

  30. it never felt complete “real” but the aha moment was when I saw daniel trying to light candles on what looked like a shrine to some deity shown in a picture on the wall behind the candles… freeze the video, rewind to 1:52, and sure enough… it’s a famous picture of Aleister Crowley… occultist, Wiccan Priest, drug user, racist, and founder of the church of Thelema… it’s a freakin TV show. o well, fun anyway

    Comment by sk — 08/21/2006 @ 02:55:45 PM

  31. If Lonely Girl isn’t talking to Daniel at all, and if he is the “computer genuis” that helps her edit all the videos, etc, then why is her video about not talking to Daniel so well edited?

    Comment by BonelyGirl15 — 08/21/2006 @ 04:29:19 PM

  32. The lonelygirl15 phenomenon and debate

    Is anyone here familiar with the Lonelygirl15 YouTube debate? (I have a show…

    Trackback by tribe.net: www.populationstatistic.com — 08/21/2006 @ 06:09:03 PM

  33. I think it could be fake or real.. the hat could fall either way so to speak. The vide of them “hiking” focuses mostly, on her leading to a plot of daniel “liking” her and her not liking him back. So great for younger audiences which leads me to belive it’s fake. How come we never see outside the room besides the hiking scene, daniel has a camera after all.. i mean im sure they can go to the kitchen. So that leads me to think it’s just a little set.
    Idk belive what you will.

    Comment by Tyler — 08/21/2006 @ 06:56:49 PM

  34. LonelyGirl15 Real or Fake?

    The Great LonelyGirl15 Debate. …

    Trackback by Steve Garfield's Off On A Tangent — 08/21/2006 @ 08:55:58 PM

  35. Irony? | The Lonelygirl15 debate

    In what is certain to ignite a fire in his Wikipedia-hating soul, Costa’s blog is being used as justification for the existence of an article on… Wikipedia. The issue? The great Lonelygirl15 debate. As in active discussion on CT’s original…

    Trackback by Journeys of Jack Tripper — 08/22/2006 @ 12:54:29 AM

  36. when she turns 18 and were to put out porn, she’d make billions

    Comment by wackattack — 08/22/2006 @ 04:54:31 AM

  37. i showed a couple of her videos to a friend of mine yesterday, and she noticed that the dialogue was scripted. in other words, she saw the LG15’s eyes tracking. “like a news reader, she’s very good though.”

    of course this alone doesn’t prove too much, but i can’t say i’ve ever seen a scripted video blog before. usually people just rant on instead of reading from a page. i don’t know what their motives are, but as far as i’m concerned it’s a hoax.

    Comment by shaun — 08/22/2006 @ 06:27:37 PM

  38. The Wikipedia discussion has grown to enormous proportions. I have it linked in my Trackback three comments above. It seems to be a battle between those of us who think it is, at the very least, a sizable enough controversy to warrant a Wikipedia article, and those who consider only their arbitrary interests worthy of inclusion in their virtua-tome.

    Comment by tim — 08/23/2006 @ 12:54:35 AM

  39. The Wikipedia squabble looks mighty funny to me. Like legitimacy matters on the InterWeb…

    To paraphrase Master Shake: You’re all yo-yo’s. Shut up, ya yo-yo’s.

    Comment by CT — 08/23/2006 @ 09:54:05 AM


    If YouTube hadn’t already jumped the shark with that whole lonelygirl15 imbroglio, I’d say cavorting with Paris Hilton easily put the latest Internet wunderkind airborne.

    The video is an example of what the company calls “participatory video ads,…

    Trackback by Population Statistic — 08/23/2006 @ 05:18:22 PM

  41. I think it’s scripted and it’s a hoax. But it’s very entertaining.

    1) Her parents are religious and strict, well if they really were, she wouldn’t even have a door in her room(technically). She wouldn’t be allowed to be with Daniel in her room at all (like someone posted before) and she wouldn’t even be allowed to have a computer with internet in her room and a webcam!
    2) Her eyes are moving as if she was reading something ( someone posted this before).
    3) The lights
    4) People say she’s smart, but yea I’m sure she is smart in her own ways, but she reads books before she tries to do something. I mean, a smart person(like truly smart) would know something without having to do some “research”.

    I don’t think a TV production is under this, though.

    Comment by John — 08/23/2006 @ 06:57:53 PM

  42. Has anyone noticed the sound quality? It doesn’t matter where they are standing or how far away from the ‘webcam’ there voices are picked up beautifully. Does this mean that they are using some good microphone equipment or do most webcam setups have that good a range?

    Comment by Jimbo — 08/23/2006 @ 11:45:53 PM

  43. Hasn’t anyone tied in the reason for the “fake” story to youtube?..I never heard or went to youtube before all this and now I’m hooked on the site (AHA!) I’ve spent all my free time looking at people’s videos and have even posted my own since reading about lonelygirl…by the way. I’m hooked on her personality. It’s entertaining, but I think youtube is behind this. Whatever the case, it’s fun.

    Comment by bob — 08/24/2006 @ 12:31:04 AM

  44. Bob, I concluded that as well upon driving home; the Lonelygirl15 phenomenon coincides with the new advertisement-based revenue plan for YouTube. So she’s not selling anything than YouTube itself.

    Comment by tim — 08/24/2006 @ 12:50:11 PM

  45. I think it’s all a class project for film school. To somebody else’s point, youtube might have helped to set this all up as a publicity stunt.

    Comment by East — 08/24/2006 @ 03:47:18 PM

  46. How does noone these two kids know blow their cover? They surely went to school with other kids who would rat them out! The most amazing thing about this hoax is not how good a fake they’ve done, it’s how they’ve managed to keep a lid on their identities. Way to go kids!

    Comment by Robert — 08/25/2006 @ 12:40:46 AM

  47. “I’m still betting on this being résumé work for some television production hopefuls, looking to score a job at a youth-oriented network.”

    Brilliant. The LG15 vlog makes complete sense now.

    Comment by Anonymous — 08/25/2006 @ 01:42:49 AM

  48. This is awesome, especially the Aleister Crowley stuff! Does anyone have an image of lonelygirl with the Crowley shrine?

    Comment by fredo — 08/25/2006 @ 11:55:57 AM

  49. Fredo,


    Comment by tim — 08/25/2006 @ 12:43:49 PM

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