Like pretty much everything else about his presidency, Donald Trump’s Twitter following is a lie. His social media fan base is mostly made of fake accounts; his legion of followers overwhelmingly comprised of automated bots. This weekend, Trump inadvertently reminded us how phony his social media popularity is when he shined a light on what he erroneously believed was an adoring supporter. That Trump booster turned out be a Twitter bot—just one of the millions of fake accounts that exist solely to bolster the popularity of the most unpopular president in American history. On the heels of the president basically catfishing himself, Twitter has since suspended the fake account and a slew of others just like it.
Here’s how we got here: On Saturday, a Twitter account with the handle @ProTrump45 tweeted a meme declaring that “Trump fights for us,” along with the message, “Trump working hard for the American people….thanks to Trump.” In response, Trump sent a thank-you message to the account, which was attached to a profile attributing ownership to a woman named “Nicole Mincey.” It didn’t take long for the hivemind internet to discover that Nicole Mincey ran a virtual store also named ProTrump45 that sells Trump-branded merchandise.
As Twitter user @Rschooley pointed out in a lengthy but brilliant thread, Nicole Mincey is not a real person. The image of her supposed face actually belongs to a model who appeared on PlaceIt, a site that will put anything you want on the front of a T-shirt. Nicole Mincey was just one of countless PlaceIt models whose images had somehow been transformed into a legion of Trump Twitterbots.
But that’s not all. Numerous members of the conservative mediasphere have been duped by these fake bots, and by @ProTrump45 in particular. Because the image associated with “Nicole Mincey”—again, not a real person but a case of online identity theft gone viral—is African-American, right-wing websites fell over themselves to feature her (totally fake) story of a formerly liberal, Obama-supporting black woman who now couldn’t post enough about how much she loves Trump.
Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller published a piece by someone using the name “ProTrump45” which fabricates a background for “Nicole Mincey” filled with black stereotypes and white conservati