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Journalistic intrigue sweeps Twitter and beyond.
Following two reports questioning her identity and motives, self proclaimed journalist Liliane Khalil has taken to Twitter to defend herself.
In a report Tuesday from Bikya Masr editor-in-chief Joseph Mayton, he says that he never met Khalil while she was a contributing editor with the online news organization covering the Middle East. Furthermore, over the last three months, concerns have been raised over “numerous apparent lies or misleading information that she has delivered to us in recent times,” Mayton wrote.
One piece of misleading information was that Khalil claimed to be a writer for the Ma’an news agency when in reality, a search of her name on the site only produced one published article, he said.
“From what we have heard from others, the reality is that she has made a living on someone’s dime for a while now, and has attempted to use her identity as a ‘journalist,’” Mayton wrote, “to create positive feedback for some entity, most likely the Bahraini government.”
The report angered Khalil, who said she is in the hospital.
“Those pieces are ridiculous,” tweeted Khalil in a response to a interview request from the Daily Dot. “Don’t wish to give legitimacy.”
Khalil also responded to Mayton directly on Twitter.
“I have just read the rubbish,” tweeted Khalil. “He has my number and could have called. How very lame and hurtful on top of this other nonsense.”
According to a report from The Next Web, the drama surrounding Khalil, her web presence and her stories began earlier this year after some sleuths on Twitter discovered that her Twitter photo matched the LinkedIn photo of a Gisele Cohen, a case manager and patient advocate at Union Healthcare of Atlanta.
Liliane did not respond to a tweet from the Daily Dot questioning this connection.
The drama inspired doctorate student Marc Owen Jones to investigate Liliane and create a lengthy Google document with all his findings.
“Despite this uncertainty though, we can say the following with some confidence; whoever Liliane Khalil is, she has at least lied about hosting galas, writing articles, and most probably interviewing a large number of people,” wrote Jones.
The people she claims to have interviewed are “King Hamad, the Bahraini Foreign Minister, Natan Sharansky, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi and Mohamed ElBaradei,” but has not been able to provide proof of interactions with them, wrote Jones.
The mystery still continues and the Twitter hashtag #lilianekhalil has been buzzing with people weighing in on Khalil’s identity.
“Second, vicious attacks & provocativeness seem to be common to these faux personas,” tweeted Zeynep Tufekci. “Not conclusive, but should be a red flag.”
Despite having her reputation and name dragged through the mud, Khalil does not believe her actions warrant any sort of story or investigation.
“This is not that serious,” tweeted Khalil. “This is not a news story. At all.”
Fernando Alfonso III served as an early Reddit and 4chan reporter and the Daily Dot’s first art director until 2016. He’s gone on to report at Lexington’s Herald-Leader and at the Houston Chronicle.