Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Who is Tom Schmidt?

Who is Tom Schmidt, the "sanctified man," and why does he follow Glenn Greenwald around on twitter like a sock shadow?

On the 24th of April, I had my first interaction with the green-egg mysterious Twitter character called "Tom Schmidt." This was during the time when journalist Glenn Greenwald and Sam Harris were having their much-publicized sparring match. Agreeing with Harris on the matter (see Link)--that Greenwald and others were mischaracterizing him rather incredibly--I had commented about something I had read about Greenwald, and Greenwald himself had interjected to try to correct me on what I had said.

Strangely, just after, green-egg Schmidt hurled an insult. I ignored it, so that was that. Later that night, though, I looked closer. This is what I saw--photo adding some highlights:
One tweet to insult me; only three following and no followers?
That looks pretty suspicious, I thought. The three people Schmidt follows are apparently unimportant to the discussion. It's noteworthy that making an account on twitter prompts you to follow a small number of people.

A quick search of the Twitter name, @sanctifiedman, revealed only one other interaction at the time, pictured below. Note that the content of those tweets had been deleted in the five intervening days. Note the similar circumstances (chronological here is bottom to top):

Same Tom Schmidt, only tweets in response to something involving Greenwald.
That made things look more suspicious, particularly given that accusations about Glenn Greenwald's employment of sock puppet behavior (making an alternate account in a false name to pose as someone else, usually to talk about or defend oneself). It's particularly suspicious that every tweet from Schmidt that I've ever seen tags Glenn Greenwald, usually arguing with or denigrating some detractor of his.

From time to time since, I've checked up on the @sanctifiedman account to see what it's been up to. I don't have any screencaptures of that time, unfortunately, but soon after this interlude on the 24th of April with me, all of Tom Schmidt's tweets were deleted. For a fair stretch of time, in fact, green-egg Schmidt appeared to have tweeted nothing at all. I noted it a couple of times on Twitter and then kind of left it. Who cares, after all?

Then this NSA scandal thing broke. Greenwald soared in fame, of course, and so I wondered about Tom Schmidt. Interestingly, fascinatingly, green-egg Tom started talking again. Same deal: always referencing Greenwald, always.
See Tom. See Tom tweet. See Glenn Greenwald in Tom's tweet.
Suspicious numbers, deleted tweets, all contain Greenwald.
Now, Greenwald has blocked me on Twitter, so I have some limitation in how much I  can look at any of these tweets in specific without going to extra effort. That's not terribly important, though, I don't think, so I haven't bothered. The behavior alone is curious. It raises some questions: Who is Tom Schmidt? Why this odd behavior? Will the account or tweets on it suddenly disappear again soon? Why?

I don't know if Tom Schmidt is Glenn Greenwald or not, and I'm certainly not accusing, but whoever he is, he's not making Greenwald look any better. Maybe he's just a too-devoted fan, but it's strange. What's going on here? To know more, I think the question stands: who is Tom Schmidt?

As a parting thought, if "Tom Schmidt" is Greenwald incognito, then the particular tweet below nearly broke my irony meter. Is this Greenwald pretending not to be Greenwald telling people to shut down accounts pretending to be Greenwald?

Irony overload?

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