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17TH January 2013

Culture - Geopolitical - Good Story - Timely - Uncategorized

You think the BCS data is bad? Turns out ND’s star linebacker was dating a digital ghost!

I'm about the x's and O's. She's about 1's and 0's. (Notre dame file photo)

I’m about the x’s and O’s. She’s about 1’s and 0’s. (Notre dame photo)


I was saddened to hear of the death of Manti Teo’s girlfriend. It was a moving story of courage and recovery for Manti, and  demonstrated the empathy possible in a close knit nation called Notre Dame.  A truly moving story in time for the Heisman Media machine’s annual award.

And after the fact, it turned out to be all bullshit.

Manti was catfished in a hoax, whereby the girl he met online was… not what she appeared. I have written about this phenomenon extensively since the movie Catfish hit the screens a few years ago. Manti was focussed on x’s and o’s, she was all about 1’s and 0’s. If I recall, thousands of people wore lei’s to mourn the loss (of his mother as well) at a game, and the cameras couldn’t get enough of it. It has happened since, and it will happen more until people realize that, for all the time they spend online, they have to build and monitor a trust system they can rely on, or face the consequences of what is called Peer to Peer “P2P” risk. In short, buying through the classifieds has risks that don’t exist at Bergdorfs. And there is simply no way that could have happened if she had a TrustCard, or he had asked for one. DISCLOSURE: I am an angel investor in the sharing economy, including TrustCloud.

We are being more mobile and social everyday. believe me, I sit at the vortex of some 100,000,000,000 mobile impressions per month at Mojiva. People should start growing accustomed to being fooled with 1’s and 0’s, or not be shocked with the consequences. Manti is a telling tale for what is surely coming for most of America (except the jaded metro-skeptics) as we use mobile and social to power our interactions. Consider what Manti represents:

  • Most of America still harbors vestiges of Classic Innocence that wants- indeed hopes- that what you see is what you get.
  • Time demands and focus elsewhere – Manti had his dreams, and he spent 99% of his time (ok, still not enough) on his football. An expert on one field, but a rookie dater. And not much of a fact checker either.
  • Doesn’t have time to track down all he sees online – and who does? And how would you?

It can suck to get catfished. Because we WANT to trust the peer to peer relationships we develop online. Sometimes, it means the car you rented on a sharing site comes back smelly. Sometimes worse. I’ve written extensively about the whoopsies in the Sharing economy here, here and here. Kickstarter has its case of the week, where Seth Quest may or may not have been forthcoming with his bona fides. And now on to dating, the ultra peer network  where Barry Diller will hook you up with a CRAZY BLIND DATE. Hmmm, can you say risk?

This will continue to accelerate as sure as mobile and social keep generating more P2P opportunities. And the risk will not be mitigated until there is a portable trust solution that people can rely on to quickly vet P2P prospects, reduce friction in transactions, and provide a trail of digital footprints if something goes wrong.

Until then, would someone please get Manti a real date?

BTW; The P2P networks have been working on trust within their networks, but unless they become the AMAZON of P2P, people will begin to demand that their virtuous data is partially theirs, and easily portable. More on Data to the people another time!


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