Remember back in 2008 when people were attributing Barack Obama's election to how great he was at social media, and it seemed like the internet and social media was the future of politics? Donald Trump's social media presence is the nightmarish inversion of that dream. Now, I don't mean that politically -- I won't be talking much at all in this article about what his campaign actually stands for -- I just mean that in the context of how he uses the internet. He uses it like a crazy person. Not someone who doesn't understand it, or someone who's out of touch. He uses it like a crazy person.
For the past few weeks I've been running a small Twitter project called @DebunkTrump that's focused on picking apart the stuff he says because I was sick of doing that on my own Twitter account but couldn't stop the actual research part because I'm obsessive and broken please help. Only a few days in, I've already learned something more interesting than any individual lie I could debunk: the Trump Twitter account is making up supporters out of thin air.
And given the spelling error, he clearly doesn't have a high opinion of his real ones.
For those unfamiliar with how Twitter works, what Trump is doing there is quoting a tweet from the account @Sara_Wejesa and replying. This tweet means that @Sara_Wejesa tweeted to Donald Trump the words "Great speach!!!!!" (sic), and Trump is replying "Thanks!"
But if you click on those blue letters and actually go and look at Wejesa's account, you see that it looks like this:
Hold on -- is it a Sara or a Matt?
Weird, right? @Sara_Wejesa has only tweeted once, and it's not even a tweet -- it's just a retweet of Trump's tweet quoting her. Which means that the tweet Trump is quoting was either deleted for some reason or never existed. Also, that account has three followers -- a robot account that only tweets pirated photographs of women in their underwear and two accounts that tweet exclusively about Trump but aside from that seem like they're just ordinary people.
Needless to say, that's crazy suspicious. I don't wanna go all tin-foil hat here, but it kinda seems like Trump had one of his interns throw the Sara Wejesa account together at the last minute just so he could pretend somebody said "great speach!" to him, and then quote it. But let's not jump to conclusions -- let us jump instead to another, similar example of this happening just a few days later:
"I'm with you" is Trump's slogan, not Hillary's, but let's not lose sight of the point.
The account Trump is quoting, @1Lion, has literally never tweeted. Kinda weird that someone would make an account, tweet at Trump once, happen to have Trump notice and quote that tweet, and then delete their only tweet afterward. Even weirder that this would happen twice in the same month.
Since that account was created seven years ago, it's unlikely Trump made it for his campaign unless this is a longer con than any of us could have anticipated. It's far more likely that he just found a dormant account and quoted it. After I found these tweets, I started digging because, again, help me. That's when I stumbled across this example which is... more complicated, I guess:
JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! JO- ... sorry, I got caught up in the excitement.
This has the same format as the other Trump tweets: Trump quotes it as an example of his support, showing that his following is passionate and enthusiastic and just socially inept enough to make you worry that they're lizards wearing flesh-suits. Only this time, the account Trump is quoting there, @RealEricJAllen, is way weirder than @Sara_Wejesa or @1Lion.
Not only is @RealEricJAllen's profile picture just a Trump banner, but he joined Twitter early in Trump's campaign, tweets an average of over 500 times a month, and every single tweet is either a Trump retweet or explicitly pro-Trump. In fact, it has tweeted the exact phrase Trump is quoting up there several times.
That screenshot was taken on Friday, two weeks after Trump quoted the tweet the first time.
Ya know, it's almost like it's a program written to do this one specific thing. If this guy isn't employed by the Trump campaign, he absolutely should be, because he's putting more effort into this than I am into my day job (which is this one, the one I'm doing right now). And if he is employed by the Trump campaign, then Trump pretended he was a supporter right there on his official Twitter. I don't know which one of those is weirder or more deceitful, because both these options are hellishly stupid. They're so stupid that I feel like I'm missing something just by trying to apply real-world logic to them. Like even trying to debunk Trump's lies in the first place is like pointing out plot-holes in a porno -- all you're doing is announcing to everyone that you're the wrong audience for what's going on.
Think I'm exaggerating? Look, if you search through Trump's twitter history, you'll find that it's not at all uncommon for Trump to quote accounts that are not only not real, but obviously not real. If he were a kid buying booze, he wouldn't bother with the three-kids-in-a-trench-coat routine. He wouldn't even make eye contact with you. He'd just walk in, take the Evan Williams off the shelf, and drive home in his dad's Miata. And for some reason none of us would stop him.
The "Miata" in that metaphor is either his 9 million Twitter followers, or the presidency.
When I say that @RichBooth6 only retweets Trump stuff, I mean that account has never actually tweeted.
@Mutual408Grace has tweeted almost 100 times since it was founded two months before Trump quoted it. All those tweets are pro-Trump tweets, and yet it has never tweeted the phrase Trump is quoting there. Again, maybe they deleted it. For no reason. Right after their favorite person in the world quoted it.
I know that it's not a big deal that Trump simultaneously opposes and supports gay rights, steadfastly insists that 6 x 17 = 112, and uses the election to support and promote his own businesses. But lying on Twitter? That's at least a new flavor of ridiculous.
Anyway, I know I'm not changing any minds here. I just think this is sort of incredible. So if you've noticed anything weird with Trump's Twitter that I haven't, or if you maybe have a dormant Twitter account that he might attributing neo-right reactionary opinions too, let me know on Twitter or in the comments.
Follow JF Sargent's DebunkTrump Twitter account for up-to-the-minute analysis of Donald J Trump's looney-tunery.
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