Emma González’s arresting speech at the March for Our Lives is one we won’t forget for years to come.
But, as González and millions of people marched to demand legislation to prevent gun violence, fake images of the activist ripping the U.S. Constitution were being circulated by self-professed NRA supporters.
The image was debunked by Don Moynihan—professor of government at University of Wisconsin—who tweeted the doctored image alongside the original image, which showed González tearing up a gun-range target. The original image is a screenshot of a video produced by Teen Vogue to accompany an op-ed penned by the 18-year-old, entitled “Why This Generation Needs Gun Control.
According to Moynihan, the doctored image was one of the first images to appear after searching for the #EmmaGonzalez hashtag on Twitter.
The fake image was tweeted out by an account named “Linda NRA Supporter” and gained over 65K retweets. Moynihan wrote in a Twitter thread that the self-professed NRA supporter could well have been a “Russian troll seeking to sow division.”
Moynihan later added that the eight digits in the account’s Twitter handle suggested that “Linda NRA Supporter” was likely a bot. Twitter subsequently suspended the account.
Account now suspended. Most likely a bot (the eight digits in the name is a tell apparently – thx @RiffChick). Original post one of the first to come up when under #EmmaGonzalez. Again, things would be a lot easier if @twitter blocked bots in the first place. pic.twitter.com/MFKZpyJZBa
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) March 25, 2018
“Linda” wasn’t the only account responsible for distributing the fake image of González.
According to The Washington Post, Gab—a “popular refuge for the alt-right”—also posted a GIF showing the activist ripping up the Constitution, gaining 1.5K retweets and nearly 3K likes. This GIF is still live on Twitter.
Hours later, Gab posted a follow-up tweet to state that the GIF was “obviously a parody/satire.”
This is obviously a parody/satire. You’re all mad because it’s believable, isn’t it? That’s the best type of satire. It’s a comedic reflection of reality.
— Gab: Free Speech Social Network (@getongab) March 25, 2018
But, by the time Gab posted its second tweet informing its 100K followers that the GIF was a “comedic reflection of reality,” scores of users had already taken the GIF at face value and believed it to be true.
To depict the destruction of the Constitution is the most in-American act that one can display, it surpassed the burning of the flag and dishonors every person who has served to protect this country. You are truly deplorable and without respect for what makes this country great.
— LR (@Gunslinger2929) March 24, 2018
“Nothing says ‘I am NOT a fascist’ like tearing up the greatest symbol of freedom that the world has ever known,” replied one Twitter user.