‘Digital blackface’: Twitter takes down fake accounts claiming to be Black Trump supporters

National

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) — Several fake Twitter accounts posing as Black supporters of President Donald Trump have been popping up recently, gaining tremendous traction and then disappearing.

It’s being called “digital black face,” and Twitter has already taken down a network of those fake accounts.

A Twitter spokesperson told CNN the accounts violated rules against platform manipulation and spam. Those rules ban users from tweeting to “artificially amplify or suppress information.”

At the forefront to spot fake accounts is a Clemson University professor who studies disinformation.

“These messages picked up a real astounding number of retweets very quickly,” digital researcher Darren Linvil said.

Linvil started seeing an unusual spike in Twitter traffic recently of Black Republicans supporting Trump.

“Clearly fake accounts using a lot of common language and common messaging,” he said.

The accounts are stealing the images of real Black Americans from news stories and other places on the web and using those pictures on the fake profiles.

Linvil and his team have been doing this type of digital forensics since 2016 when foreign interference disrupted the election process. In this case, he tracked some 30 fake accounts or trolls back to the source.

At this point, it’s unclear where the fake accounts are coming from. Twitter did not respond to CNN’s request for a total number of accounts suspended.

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