Lonelygirl15 still a mystery, for now

A few weeks ago we posted about the curious case of Lonelygirl15, the YouTube sensation whom many thought just didn’t ring quite true. Naturally, this being the Web, a virtual army of Sherlock Holmeses is on the case. (Example: A botanist has identified “Nolina parryi” plant life in her most recent video, surefire evidence it was made in Southern California.) Even the New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan, who was so enraptured by the supposed 16-year-old “emo girl,” is starting to have her doubts. Now, BusinessWeek joins the fray (forget $200 a barrel oil, there’s YouTube to dissect), with Jon Fine doing a yeoman’s job to get to the bottom of the situation. His take: Probably fake, but most likely not a viral marketing campaign for indie bands but for actors looking to make it big in Hollywood. Assuming Lonelygirl15 is outed as something less than she purports to be—that is, a homeschooled teen looking for friends via webcam—it will be interesting to see what the reaction is in the YouTube community. (Just so long as Geriatric1927 isn’t actually a shill for Metamucil, please.) The popularity of social media sites like YouTube and MySpace has inevitably prompted marketers, entertainment companies and others to invade. Expect the backlash to get rolling any minute now.

—Posted by Brian Morrissey