President Trump decries fake news on a near-daily basis, but over the weekend he retweeted a fake Twitter account.
On Saturday, Trump retweeted a message from user @Protrump45, who wrote, “Trump working hard for the American people…..thanks”
Thank you Nicole! https://t.co/KlWN05uFOx— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 5, 2017
The user had shared an image in a reply of the president overlaid with the message “Trump fights for us.”
The name on the account was Nicole Mincey, and the avatar was a photo of a young woman. Twitter detectives were quick to find that the picture was a stock photo, and that links on the account went to protrump45.com, a website selling Trump merchandise, including T-shirts with slogans like “Make America Great Again!” and “Deplorable Lives Matter."
#6 She isn't a real person. pic.twitter.com/p81dYu2rNV— Schooley (@Rschooley) August 6, 2017
Trump's retweet was still up as of Monday afternoon, although the Nicole Mincey account has been suspended.
Enterprising sleuths soon determined that a number of accounts related to the protrump45.com site were fake, many using stock photos with GOP slogans Photoshopped onto T-shirts.
A large percentage of Trump's Twitter followers have been determined to be bots or fakes, Newsweek found that of the 31 million accounts following Trump at that time, 49 percent (more than 15 million) were fake.Cybersecurity experts say that the dispersal of propaganda, disinformation campaigns and fake news didn't end with the 2016 election. “If you went online today, you could see these accounts — either bots or actual personas somewhere — that are trying to connect with the administration," Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told NPR in April. "They might broadcast stories and then follow up with another tweet that tries to gain the president’s attention, or they’ll try and answer the tweets that the president puts out."