On Friday morning, President Trump shared a seemingly innocuous article on Twitter. The piece stated that his sister, Elizabeth Trump Grau, had publicly voiced her help for her brother amid his baseless claims that he gained the 2020 election.
“Thanks Elizabeth,” Mr. Trump wrote to his sister, who has lengthy prevented the highlight. “LOVE!”
There was only one downside: Ms. Trump Grau had not stated what the article claimed. In actual fact, the article Mr. Trump shared was based mostly on a faux Twitter account that posed as his sister.
That article, on the web site of a conservative talk-radio host named Wayne Dupree, quoted a publish from a Twitter account named “Betty Trump” that used a photograph of Ms. Trump Grau as its profile image.
“This election impressed me to interrupt my silence and communicate out on behalf of my household,” the account stated in a publish on Wednesday. “My brother Don gained this election and can battle this to the very finish. We’ve at all times been a household of fighters.”
The article on Mr. Dupree’s website known as the feedback “so highly effective” and stated they confirmed how “our president actually does have such a tremendous household.”
Had the article’s writer regarded extra carefully, although, she would have observed some suspicious particulars in regards to the account. It was a day previous. The photographs it used of Ms. Trump Grau were taken from Getty Photographs and previous information articles about her. And since that first publish, the account had tweeted increasingly bizarre messages, sharply criticizing Democrats, journalists and Republicans who had questioned the false declare that Mr. Trump was re-elected.
“If somebody pours gravy down Chris Wallace’s pants at Thanksgiving dinner, I promise, I’ll care for the authorized charges!” the account stated, referring to the Fox Information anchor. One other publish stated, “The proper Trump drink on a tough day,” with a photograph of a can of Natty Daddy, an inexpensive malt beer.
The weird episode illustrates how simply misinformation spreads on-line, typically with the assistance of the president himself. Proper-wing web sites that search to help the president’s baseless claims, or just entice clicks to allow them to promote extra adverts, typically eschew the standard ideas of journalism, comparable to easy fact-checking. And the social media corporations help the cycle by making it easy to share misinformation, together with by way of faux accounts, and by coaching their algorithms to advertise materials that pulls extra consideration, as sensational and divisive posts typically do.
Ms. Trump Grau didn’t reply to messages left at a telephone quantity and electronic mail listed for her in public data.
Vice Information reported on Friday that an individual who recognized herself as Ms. Trump Grau had stated she was making an attempt to get the account deleted. “I’ve no assertion,” the individual was quoted as telling Vice. “I’m simply aggravated about this complete factor.”
President Trump’s tweet about his sister introduced the faux account a sudden rush of consideration on Friday morning. Shortly after, Mr. Dupree’s web site up to date the piece with a disclaimer that stated the account could be an impostor.
“Whereas this has not been formally ‘fact-checked’ by social media executives and professionals, we’re listening to from many others that this isn’t really the account of Ms. Elizabeth Trump,” the location stated. “We’ll depart it up with this replace, and watch for official fact-checkers to weigh in.”
Hours later, the account got here clear. “I’d’ve clarified sooner that I used to be a parody however I actually didn’t anticipate President Trump himself taking discover of the account,” the individual operating the account posted on Twitter. “Hope y’all will forgive me — really feel dangerous for creating any confusion. LOVE!”
The president’s publish remained up hours later.
Mr. Dupree stated in an electronic mail that the article’s writer had merely rewritten a publish she had discovered on one other conservative web site. “Once I discovered, I used to be confused and I instantly went to the writer they usually went again to the web site they claimed it was from however they didn’t see it so we got here up with the assertion,” he stated. “I don’t need individuals, readers to suppose we’re faux information.”
The article remained on his web site on Friday afternoon.
By that point, Twitter had deleted the account that posed as Ms. Trump Grau. A Twitter spokesman stated the account was “completely suspended for violating the Twitter Guidelines on platform manipulation and spam.”
Simply earlier than the account was deleted, @TheBettyTrump posted one other message: “President Trump seems drained … he’s working so onerous.”
Davey Alba contributed reporting.