It doesn’t really matter whether social-media accounts are real or fake, since the world itself is a vale of dreams and unreality.
But for those who are keeping score, Donald Trump has been sharing social-media content that is laudatory of himself (shock) even though some of it may not be “real” (double shock), at least inasmuch as it doesn’t come from a “real person.” Or at least not the person it purports to come from.
While hard to believe, given the high degree of accuracy and stringent fact-checking that are hallmarks of Trump’s social-media activity, it appears the President was duped into sharing a tweet from a person masquerading as someone else online. In this case, the supposed user was named Nicole Mincey, using the well-disguised Twitter handle @ProTrump45.
On Saturday morning, Trump retweeted a post from the account raving, “Trump working hard for the American people,” with the acknowledgement, “Thank you Nicole!” Sharp-eyed social Twitter users immediately noticed that pretty much everything about the account is fake, including the image of the so-called Mincey persona, a fairly obvious stock photo edit.
Once people began pointing out the account was fake, it didn’t take long for Mincey to vanish from social media.
However, the account itself is not necessarily a bot, as many initially concluded. Daily Beast journo Ben Collins claims he was able to get in touch with an ostensibly real human being behind the account, who spells her name slightly differently and supposedly lives in Newark, NJ.
No surprise, the fake (or semi-fake, or indeterminately unreal) Twitter account was tied to a pro-Trump e-commerce operation selling knockoffs of Trump campaign memorabilia. Several other contrived online personas were linked to the online store, some of which also used stock photos, but were maintained by at least two real people.
One posted anti-Muslim sentiments after the Manchester UK terror attack. Virtually all of Mincey’s 140,000 Twitter followers were also fake, according to Collins.
PlaceIt, the company which owns at least some of the stock photo images, is trying to get all the fake accounts (or rather, anonymous accounts masquerading as fictional people with fake photos and names) taken down. The real people behind some of these Twitter accounts have doubtless moved on to create more mostly fake (but also slightly real) Twitter accounts.
In short, the Internet is a rabbit hole and everything and everyone on it might just as well be fake as real. There is almost no way to tell the difference, anyway.
I have to go lie down now.