168 Comments

This was so helpful and insightful! Thank you for the mention. I was indeed talking about "Hannah". I didn't want to be wrong, so I didn't mention the name at first. I never subscribed, because to me it felt fishy that ALL the content was locked in a paywall. That is something we should be wary of. People want to first glimpse at what you offer as a writer or artist. They're not going to just blindly pay you not knowing if it's worth their time and money.

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It feels good to see HW taken down. Man, you were quick on a hot take! Thanks for the very useful dialogue and suggestions

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You really put this all in the right perspective, Tom. I like that you tried to make contact first, since it was a questionable account, but not 100 percent verifiable. This is one benefit of having a tighter knit community, is that we're all talking, watching out for one another and within what little power we have trying to keep things sane around these parts. Win!

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I saw all those Hannah Williams likes on my posts over the past couple of weeks and thought I was trending. Damn you, Tom, for crashing me back to Earth.

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This might be the most timely post I’ve ever read here.

Over the past few days (maybe a week?) I’ve been receiving an absolute flood of likes from our “mutual” friend. The strange part was the quantity/rapid succession of likes (and these were from comments I left on different writers’ Substacks! Not even my own posts!) I was about to reach out to her to see what the deal was. Glad it’s been handled!

Over the past two weeks I’ve had two different new subscribers sign up. On both occasions, following my subsequent post, they disabled their accounts - yet opened my emails upwards of 700 times. After the first one I thought maybe it was a fluke...but after the second one, I’m going to flag those email addresses and alert Substack about it.

Thank you so much for the post! Hopefully we can rid Substack-land of these scammers before it gets out of hand.

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I had several weird multiple subscribers lately with this [name]@highestqualityleadsnow.com and [name]@ twistedinkcustom.us . I emailed substack but they told me they had other issues to deal with.

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That Cory Doctorow piece was recommended to me by a friend about a month ago and it was like a great gasp of revelation. So THAT'S why everything sucks now!

Great piece, Tom. I'm with you -- I'm not interested in harassing suspected violators either. A big part of me will always appreciate a good hustle, especially one that isn't outright abusive. However, if we and the platform itself can keep Substack from succumbing to enshittification, we should. Part of that is banning bots, which includes real humans behaving like bots.

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Apr 4, 2023Liked by Tom Pendergast

Im a Hannah target too! I’ve been wondering why she was liking all these super old comments I’ve made. But I did t have your journalistic commitment to follow through. So thanks for answering this question for me. Substack’s still social media at the end of the day.

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Thanks, Tom, for following the thread and shining some light on it. I feel a little protective of it because of how other social media platforms have been “enshittified” by random noise, and dang it, I like it here. I tried to reverse image search her profile pic and just got weird Pinterest posts...strong bot energy for sure.

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Well played, Tom. At some point I will be stealing that photo and making you into a proper pirate. For posterity.

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Me, too. I don't think "she" is alone either. Rather distressing. I don't really want to police likes and comments so much that I have to determ8ne whether participants are real.

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Apr 4, 2023·edited Apr 5, 2023Liked by Tom Pendergast

Thanks, Tom, for being so, well, skeptical and having such a sensitive "bullshit indicator." And by the way, I do happen to think you're hot. : )

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Yeah, I had some Hannah likes today, too. On comments I made over a year ago... Didn't take much notice.

Newsflash though -- I followed the link you posted to her Substack, and I can still see it. So either it's unblocked or it's cached somewhere between me and her.

It could be something as un-nefarious as someone experimenting with ChatGPT to see who buys in. I could see me doing that -- not trying to "trick" someone or scam them, but to test the limits of AI. Or maybe it's someone trying to get a quick and dirty way to make subscription money. (I wonder if anyone is paying for this?)

Either way, based on the posts I read, it's not fit for purpose...

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Thanks, Tom. BTW, “Hannah Williams,” who likes all my comments but not my posts, is still around. Unless I’m getting a cached copy of “her” site, and I don’t think so. Geez.

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Oddly, I cannot like your post. But I like it. Guarantee I'm a real person. Trade subscriptions?

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I just clicked through, and "Hannah" is still there. . . and yes, her picture really does look AI-generated (or fake, at any rate). So frustrating. I get this kind of thing alllll the time on Instagram, but so far not here on Substack (maybe I just don't have a big enough audience yet). Thanks for raising this issue. I agree--we must all be vigilant and watch out for scammers. (And also, I spent way too much time looking for food in your teeth. . . to no avail).

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