A fake Donald Trump Jr. tweet circulated online after the FBI seized documents from former President Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago. But Trump Jr. never asked supporters to stay away from the Florida resort to “keep it clean” for “important people.” Let’s look at the facts.
There are several applications online that make it incredibly easy to manufacture convincing fabricated tweets. This is one reason to be cautious when you encounter an image of a tweet that does not link back to the original source. But sharing screenshots of authentic tweets is also common practice online (for example, to discreetly share a tweet without quote tweeting it). So how can you catch the fakes?
Here are a few steps you can take:
- Search the supposed poster’s Twitter account for the text of the viral message. To do this, plug two or three words from the original text into Twitter’s advanced search function, specify the account you want to look for, then click the search button. This can also be done in Twitter’s regular search bar by adding “from:twitterhandle” after your search term. In this case, we could search for “important people from:donaldtrumpjr."
- Use a search engine to look for news stories and fact-checks about the viral tweet.
- If the tweet is from a politician and was allegedly deleted, you can verify this using ProPublica’s Politwoops tool or on the PolitiTweet website. You can also search internet archive sites — such as the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine or archive.today — to look for archives of authentic tweets that have since been deleted.
We found no record of this tweet when we searched Trump Jr.’s Twitter account, as well as his deleted tweets on PolitiTweet. This tweet — which would have drawn swift attention on Twitter — also does not appear on popular internet archives.
A quick web search for additional information about this tweet surfaces two fact-checks from the Associated Press and PolitiFact that found this fake tweet misattributed to Donald Trump Jr. was created by a Twitter account with a penchant for posting doctored tweets. While the original version included a “parody” label and other clues to hint at its humorous nature (the listed publication time was the nonexistent 6:99 a.m.), these indicators were cropped out as this fake tweet was screenshotted and reshared online.
- "No, Trump Jr. didn’t suggest his father’s supporters aren’t clean" (Ciara O'Rourke, PolitiFact).
- “Fake Trump Jr. tweet about keeping Mar-a-Lago ‘clean’ was parody" (Ali Swenson, The Associated Press).
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