This week it was revealed that the author behind the popular @GSElevator Twitter account was never a Goldman Sachs employee. @GSElevator posts “things heard in the Goldman Sachs elevators” according to the Twitter page which has almost 650,000 followers. The “things” tweeted are sensationalized comments purportedly made by Goldman bankers which highlight their affluence-induced disconnection with the rest of society.
The articles exposing John Lefevre as the author behind @GSElevator (which ironically don’t reveal who exposed the scammer) also tell that Mr. Lefevre secured a six-figure book deal in which he will recount additional tales of Wall Street greed. The book’s publisher, a division of Simon & Schuster, indicates that they are not bothered by the fact that Lefevre never worked at Goldman. I am.
In the article, Lefevre seem to make light of the situation and indicates that he choose Goldman for his Twitter account name because of its brand recognition. “The stories aren’t Goldman Sachs in particular. It was about the culture in general,” he says. However, Lefevre (anonymously) did an interview with The New York Times (“Meet the Goldman Sachs Banker Behind @GS Elevator,” August 2011) in which the extent of his deceit is truly highlighted. In this interview he was asked pointed questions (“Are you really a Goldman employee?”, “Overall, what are your thoughts on your Goldman colleagues?”, and “Are you afraid Goldman’s compliance department will find you?”) and responds as if he is in fact a Goldman employee.
I know @GSElevator is more entertainment-oriented than news-oriented, but where is the line? Do people care that they are being lied to over social media? Is it our responsibility as information consumers to read everything with a skeptical eye? Can social media platforms be doing more to ensure that users are who they say they are?