Buzzfeed has now published an article on the “Nicole Mincey” story. It addresses a few of the points we’ve been discussing. One key point is that it suggests that what got Twitter to act was the unauthorized use of photos reported by the company behind the Placeit Mockup Tool, something we discussed here. But the really interesting part is the new explanation by the woman in New Jersey who originally claimed her identity had been stolen for the effort.
Here’s the new story she told Buzzfeed ..
BuzzFeed News spoke to a 21-year-old woman in New Jersey associated with the @Protrump45 handle, who said that the account and the pro-Trump store connected to it were actually run by a collective of about 10 Trump supporters spread across the United States.
According to the woman, the “Nicole Mincey” character was created using a variation of her name, and some of her biographical information. The @Protrump45 account frequently used the name, but the woman claimed she was never in control of the account, though she did post on the site’s blog using the alias.
The Mincey character was used as a “marketing tool,” she said, explaining that the group chose to use aspects of her identity, “because I’m black, so it’s easier to market black people [as Trump supporters].”
She also said the Mincey character was also adopted by another black woman in the group, who used it during an interview with the conservative radio show “Trending Today USA” in May, in which she spoke about being a young, black Trump supporter.
The woman who spoke with BuzzFeed News claims not to have made any money off the venture, she said that the ProTrump45 business really took off after they bought fake followers for the main Twitter account, and when they bought ads on Twitter in May.
She said she was asked to join the group after posting pro-Trump memes on her personal Instagram. She left the group in June, she said, after the university she attends contacted her about a “scam” being run in her name.
“They asked did I want to be part of a group where you could be a [Trump] supporter and not disclose your identity, and I joined and here I am today in the middle of this mess,” she said.
She claimed that she asked the group to stop using the derivation of her name in its social media accounts, and only found out that it had not after Trump retweeted @Protrump45 Saturday.
“The whole thing fell apart because I didn’t want to come out and say I was one of the members,” she said. “The Twitter account was the main source of the traffic so I don’t know what they’re going to do.”
This is, to put it mildly, a rather convoluted account. They asked this woman if she could join their group because being a black woman helped the marketing effort even though they used pictures of other women to represent her. She didn’t control the account but she did often post under the alias that was a near copy of her own name? Neither point is entirely implausible. There’s evidence for the latter, “Nicole” posting a birthday message on the day the 21 year old New Jersey woman celebrates hers. But if she didn’t make money from this, who did? Who are the ten other people? And how is it that the bot army traces back years before Trump?
Check out the full Buzzfeed story here.