Twitter is going a little nuts over a new social network called Pheltup, with people clamouring for invites. It's a hoax people, pure and simple. I'm a Web 2.0 geek and was at first seduced by the sexy logo and bold colour palette, but read on and you'll see why you should keep your email address to yourself.

If you're not a member you don't get to take a look at what's going on inside (at least not yet) leading people no alternative but to speculate. The site only hints vaguely, saying on the front page that it is "The first social network that not only tells you WHO is doing WHAT; but also WHY." Wired posted a short piece saying "This is what we know about Pheltup: It's probably an elaborate inside joke."

Wired also notes that WhoIs information shows that the domain was registered on the 21st of May, saying "Could a social network spring up overnight? Not likely." The WhoIs gives no other clues, but does reveal that the company Pheltup.com are based in Vancouver.

Sources for more information are currently pretty scarce. There is a Pheltup account on Twitter, a thread on Get Satisfaction and a room on FriendFeed for people wanting an invitation.

If it is a hoax, as Wired suggests, then they have persuaded a lot of others to play along, including Nick Douglas and Scott Beale. Neither journalist has blown the whistle, but Laughing Squid could just be playing along. In fact no source from the inside has yet written a review or provided any screenshots or anything concrete.

Mike Monteiro has probably done the most to convince me that this is all a big joke. In various tweets he 'reveals' that big Twitter users Zappos and Will Wheaton have an account (although they haven't mentioned Pheltup themselves) and hints at some cool 'tutorials' feature and something called a 'socialspirograph' (which sounds very cool, or could be utter nonsense). Mike's bio says 'You have fair warning that I will lie to you'. Also his most recent posts (after the teasing) say ' Got ONE. First-come, first-served.' then '...and there it goes.' So was the lie a lie? I give up...


Some users are utterly convinced it's just a wind up, including Aaron Muszalski: 'That's it. I'm fed up with pheltup. They were cool 20 hours ago, but now, between the downtime, the privacy holes and this TOS kerfluffle...'

Even the initial David McCreath and Merlin Mann tweets link to jokey URLs like:
pheltup.com/mike_ftw/cupcakes/taxonomy/om/nom/nom/nom/,
pheltup.com/bayareatraffic, and pheltup.com/pantiefight (age verification req'd)


So I had to go around in a few circles to come to this conclusion, and now I feel like a big dork because the clues were right there from the start. The ultimate question seems to be, is it just a friendly poke at social networking addicts who 'must have an invite' or a scam to harvest thousands of email addresses from a very specific demographic?

Update

Simon Wistow gets the joke. Last year he 'created' Flume, a similarly vague 2.0ish site, big on hype, low on detail.

It would appear that Pheltup is running off the same technology that the stillborn Flume did. I believe it was originally called "Smoke and Mirrors" but has been renamed "Bullshitr" for marketing purposes.

He gives more of the story here.

3 comments:

It's not a real joke until they go as far as to have a SXSW party: http://www.frrvrr.com/

June 13, 2008 at 3:14 PM  

June 13, 2008 at 10:19 PM  

@f6x If any more evidence were needed, you found it buddy :)

June 13, 2008 at 10:51 PM  

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