Speed Reads

Curiouser and curiouser

Trump promoted a suspicious Twitter account. It got deleted. Internet sleuths are on the case.

On Saturday, President Trump was in his natural habitat — the dregs of his own Twitter mentions — when he happened upon a tweet from an account called @ProTrump45. The president retweeted it, which looked like this:

@ProTrump45's name was displayed as "Nicole Mincey," and the account's avatar showed a young black woman. As has become standard routine whenever the president promotes random Twitter users (some of whom have turned out to be less than exemplary people), internet sleuths got busy.

The account apparently existed to promote ProTrump45.com, which sells Trump-branded clothes and bills itself as "the perfect store built by a trump supporter for trump supporters" who "are not bigots thats how fake news painted us [sic throughout]."

Nicole Mincey, however, doesn't exist — well, not exactly. Though The Washington Post reported the account "bears a lot of signs of a Russia-backed disinformation campaign," per investigations from BuzzFeed News and The Daily Beast, the name is a variation of the real name of real woman in New Jersey. She is indeed a young, African-American Trump supporter, but she is not the woman in the avatar. That image came from a stock photo site called PlaceIt, and it was edited to make the model's skin lighter.

The woman in New Jersey told reporters from BuzzFeed and The Daily Beast the account was managed by a group of Trump supporters from around the country to promote their online store. She claimed she no longer wants the group to base the account on her name and biography, but the other members refused to drop the Mincey character.

Since Trump's retweet, the account and a host of other fake, stock photo-fronted accounts with which it interacted to advertise the store have been suspended by Twitter. Trump has not directly commented on the situation.