The tweet had over a thousand shares in the hours following the addressing of the state of the Union of President Donald Trump on Tuesday. "I am a black trans woman and after this extraordinary speech tonight I say proudly to support Donald Trump, my president," user "BlackTransQween" wrote, using a profile picture of a black transgender woman. "We have to go after this man."
"BlackTransQween" also tweeted against immigration and gender options on driving licenses. When the profile disappeared this week, conservatives cried censorship. But in reality, the account had been suspended for breaking the rules of Twitter against the representation afterwards the writer Gabe Gonzalez has revealed the account He was using a photo of Charlene Arcila-Ecks, a transgender health advocate who died in 2015. The theft was the latest in a trend of people stealing African American photos to push the right causes online. And with the 2020 elections looming, identity theft is increasing.
"It's a concerted effort to fundamentally put a digital black face on," the founder of Stop Online Violence Against Women told The Daily Beast Shireen Mitchell.
Mitchell said he has been observing these tax accounts since 2013, long before Trump's rise. It was then that the trolls launched a campaign called "Stop Black Girls" to counter an event called "Black Girls Rock". The impostors would raise stock images or social media photos to pretend to be black women and make incendiary claims, Mitchell said.
"There was this continuing campaign of pretending to be black women and making everyone angry because we were" angry black women. "This is the norm, the stereotype No one would stop and say" it seems wrong "because the hiring and the stereotype, "he said. "Use the stereotype to project that all black women are angry, so anything we say or do becomes part of a disinformation and firing campaign."
Those tactics soon found favor with a new type of troll. When the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company that influences social media, started buying ads for US Facebook users before the 2016 presidential election, a significant portion of the ads was addressed to voters blacks. Russian accounts like "Blacktivist" posed as African-Americans and encouraged people to vote for Jill Stein or, at least, not Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump and his supporters have promoted images of black household stocks in advertising on the campaign path. In June 2016, Trump tweeted a follower meme, which allegedly showed a black family "for Trump". But the image of an African American family actually comes from a local news article about a family picnic. It seemed high in the results of Google images for "black family".
The father of the family, Eddie Perry, said BuzzFeed Trump's tweet was "political propaganda".
"I'm not saying there are no black families supporting Trump," said Perry, "but this black family has not supported anyone."
In 2017 Trump retweeted an account that claimed to be a black girl who thanked him. The picture was actually a stock image for a t-shirt site.
Other Twitter accounts of Twitter pro-Trump were discovered using black images as images of their profile. When the Twitter user profile picture "The Dope Conservative" It has been revealed to be An image of Shutterstock entitled "Black man posing with arms crossed and wearing glasses", the Twitter user claimed that all his pictures of himself were on a USB stick, which was stolen . The account has been canceled since then.
With the 2020 elections on the horizon, the trolls have a new cast of candidates to promote or not. Meanwhile, the trolls came out in support of Howard Schultz, the billionaire CEO of Starbucks who is ruminating on a presidential race. An account now suspended has claimed to represent "Blacks4Schultz". The image of the profile, of a black man who acclaimed a "Howard!" T-shirt, was actually a poorly modified image.
And during the state of Trump Union, the main conservative Twitter users retweeted the pro-Trump praise from the account that stole the image of Charlene Arcila-Ecks. The insult was obvious Arcila-Ecks was the founder of the Trans-Health Conference in Philadelphia, and used his role as an ordained minister to advise other religious leaders on inclusion. She died in 2015, but the conference continued to function, even if the Trump administration attempted to restore transgender rights.
Imitation has the same tactics as before the 2016 election, says Mitchell – and this time we have to pay attention.
"The black women were the canaries in the coal mine, we were the only ones who tested," he said of the campaigns in 2013. "Here we are on the other side, ready to go in 2020, and I feel the heat of having even pulled him up. "