The New York Times did what Goldman Sachs couldn’t, unmasking the man behind the notorious @GSElevator Twitter handle, an account that claimed to tweet snippets of uncensored conversations overhead in the firm’s elevators, epitomizing its reputation as an over-the-top, insensitive boys-club (highlights include "#1: Most girls cannot pull off their attitude. They need to either get hotter, or be nicer" and “On Valentine’s Day I send my wife flowers with a card that says ‘Congratulations.’”)
You can’t really blame Goldman Sachs for failing to sniff out the man behind the tweets, though. Turns out, he never worked there. He doesn’t even live in New York. The author is instead John Lefevre, a 34-year-old former bond executive who lives in Texas.
While many have long speculated that Lefevre was a fraud, it’s slightly unsettling how seriously Goldman Sachs took the Twitter account, which prompted an internal inquiry at the firm as well as a ban on speaking in elevators.
Do employees at Goldman Sachs actually talk like this?
#1: If your bachelor party revolves around a big steak dinner and a strip club, count me out. I did that last night.— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) January 14, 2014
#1: Football season is the only time of year when unemployed people know when Monday is.
— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) August 29, 2013
Apparently, yes they do: Mr. Lefevre, who worked for Citigroup for seven years, told the Times that many of the tweets were true: “I’ve been collecting these stories for years.”
Ouch. Ultimately though, Lefevre’s charade may have stronger implications for Twitter than it does for Goldman Sachs, where public perception about its employees wasn’t that great to begin with. @GSElevator raises some thorny questions for the social media network, primarily the difference between a parody account (see @NotTildaSwinton) and an outright fake account.
While Twitter outlines guidlines for parody commentary and fan accounts on its website – account names, for example, “should not be the exact name of the account subject without some other distinguishing word, such as ‘not,’ ‘fake,’ or ‘fan’” – it’s not clear whether or not Lefevre’s @GSElevator broke the rules, creating a problematic grey area that the company has yet to address.