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Steve Jobs: Will The Real "Fake" Steve Please Stand Up?

Thursday, 19 Jul 2007 | 10:57 AM ET

Amazing how a soap opera turns into a saga when lawyers get involved, but such is the case with the ongoing web mystery swirling around Fake Steve Jobs. Have you been following this? If you have, you may have seen my colleague Jane Wells' blog post yesterday about the Fake Steve Jobs, where she pointed out some of his "ramblings."

As you may know, the www.fakesteve.blogspot.com Web site is purporting to be the secret diary of his iPhone-ness. The missives are written in a voice so resembling Steve Jobshimself that you can almost "hear" him saying the words (as Jane pointed out). And the search has been on to figure out who the real identity is behind this site, which is now considered a must-read for insiders in the tech business. And this has been a big-time search.

Everyone wants to know who is behind this site.

But now, that search is turning nasty, or so Fake Steve Jobs would like you to think. Fake Steve Jobs went off on his (or her) site yesterday, posting a two-paragraph diatribe saying he's now contacted attorney and computer security experts after those trying to "out" him "may or may not have crossed over the line of legality but definitely fall outside the boundaries of what most decent civilized human beings consider to be appropriate behavior."

Hmmmm. That definitely doesn't sound like the man himself. He continues: "I don't want to get into details but lets just say it sort of almost makes a person begin to fear for the safety of himself and the people around him. It's creep. It's gross. It's wrong."

And for a writer who prides himself on being the "voice" of his faux-collar-ness (read his Interview from engadget and you'll see what I mean), this is certainly breaking from his character: "To whatever bit of pond scum is doing this stuff, let me say this: This was fun, up to a point. You've gone past that point. Stop."

What's going on here? Valleywag, the snarky, inside-baseball Silicon Valley online gossip rag, has apparently made its mission in life to unmask Fake Steve Jobs. Rumors of private investigators, hackers and so much more have been wafting through blogs as the methods being used to figure out who this person really is. And that's apparently a little too much for Fake Steve Jobs.

Valleywag has named various people as possible suspects in all this: Eric Savitzat Barron's, John Paczkowskiof "All Things Digital," Leander Kahneyof Wired, Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times. Valleywag's publisher Nick Denton and new editor Owen Thomas have been going after this identity as if the iPhone's success itself hangs in the balance.

We know who it's not: At the D, All Things Digital Conference in May, Bill Gates, sitting next to Steve Jobs on stage told the crowd emphatically: "First, I want to clarify: I'm not Fake Steve Jobs."

With today's brutal, out of character post, I have a theory, courtesy of another well-known writer born too soon to blog himself: "Me thinks he doth protest too much."

I've got a sneaking feeling that Thomas and Denton are behind all this. If not directly, then indirectly. I tried reaching Thomas this morning but he wasn't answering his cell phone. But if this is all about driving traffic to Valleywag, or hitching Valleywag to the Fake Steve Jobs gravy train, it's working. Valleywag goes after Fake Steve Jobs. Fake Steve Jobs protests. Loudly. Valleywag writes about it more. And then we all follow the drama. Pretty cool.

So far, rant responses to Fake Steve Jobs are squarely in his corner. Leave him alone, they say. Funny how Fake Steve enjoys the same rabid support as the real one. Valleywag, it's your move.

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com

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