In 2004, however, Keys gained notoriety of a different sort under the LiveJournal handle Madrigalskylark.
For those unfamiliar, Encyclopedia Dramatica is a satirical wiki that gained prominence in the mid-2000s for its incredibly offensive but insanely detailed archiving of message-board feuds, largely centered around the 4chan network. The Encyclopedia Dramatica community is fond of describing itself as Wikipedia’s evil twin.
Everything on Encyclopedia Dramatica should be taken with a grain of salt.
The article, though, does provide a directory of Keys’ other profiles on LiveJournal that link to one another. The accounts that haven’t been suspended reference each other and share a lot of similar posting qualities.
The best evidence that Matthew Keys, Reuters deputy social media editor, is the same person as Matthew Keys, infamous LiveJournal troll, comes from an incredibly extensive Wikipedia user page that Keys wrote about himself when he was 19:
“In March of 2004, Matthew stumbled across LiveJournal while randomly surfing the Internet. Matthew created an account and on 28 March 2004, Matthew posted his first-ever entry on LiveJournal. While Matthew did not stay with the same account for very long on LiveJournal, various accounts spread across LiveJournal have kept a historical archive on Matthew’s feelings on a wide variety of topics, from the War in Iraq, the 2004 Presidential Elections, a 20/20 news piece on Matthew Shepard and Matthew’s struggle to “fit in” with various social crowds (most notably, his struggle to fit in with peers in his theatre group).”
And there are many other blogs that are still active.
At a glance, Keys’ blogs operated very similarly to his Twitter feed now, covering news at a hyperactive pace. He would put up rudimentary Photoshops of news events with captions on what he referred to as the Skylark Network.
The Encylopedia Dramatica article mentions a site called Daviswiki.
Daviswiki is a wiki community for Davis, California. Apparently Keys became very active on the site around 2006. Keys found himself involved in similar fights with users there. Encyclopedia Dramatica describes several feuds that Keys’ various handles would get into on Daviswiki. At one point, Keys posted:
“I feel such a tremendous pain, a deep heartache…a pain that has reached depths in my heart I never knew existed. A pain that can only be satiated, or perhaps fed, by blood and suffering. That is, of my own…not of others, which would lead to a promotion of more pain and suffering.”
What’s interesting, though, is the Encyclopedia Dramatica’s description of Keys’ use of dummy accounts:
“Calling himself by new sockpuppets such as “evilmaxheadroom”, he has decided to replicate the great and lulz-worthy Max Headroom Pirate television incident by running a bot to replace pages with quotes from that broadcast. He shows all of the originality of your typical skript kiddie, but hey it’s probably not his fault because he’s too busy contemplating suicide.”
Keys’ propensity for dummy accounts appears not to have gone away over the years either.
In a Reuters article written about his indictment, it’s mentioned that even in the last year at Reuters, Keys was reprimanded for parody Twitter accounts:
At Reuters, where his main mission was to promote journalists’ stories through social media, Keys drew attention last October by covertly creating a parody Twitter account, PendingLarry, which mocked Google after a premature release of an earnings report that included a space reserved for comment by CEO Larry Page. He was reprimanded by Reuters editors for that incident.
If convicted of all charges, Matthew Keys, who didn’t respond to multiple inquiries from BuzzFeed, faces up to 25 years in prison and $750,000 in fines. His arraignment is set for April 12.
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