An ongoing disinformation campaign aimed at antifa — shorthand for antifascist or antifascism — took a new turn Thursday as freshly created fake Twitter accounts spread false and inflammatory information about antifa’s plans for the Fourth of July.
One of the fake antifa accounts, @ANTIFA_DC, shared information suggesting antifascists were planning to disrupt a parade in Washington, D.C., writing: “F-ck the #TrumpParade. See you in the street, fascists."
Other tweets from the fake antifa account espoused anti-American sentiment while some took on a more sinister tone.
“We’ll see you Fascists at Trumps war parade tomorrow. This time we’re ‘locked and loaded,’” the account tweeted on July 3.
The fake D.C. antifa account also piggybacked off and shared news from a newly created fake Fox News account.
The fake Fox News account was created on July 3. Within 24 hours, it already had more than 200 followers. Both the fake Fox News account and the fake DC antifa account have the same URL posted in their profiles, suggesting the accounts are likely linked.
The fake Fox News account shared content including a fabricated tweet from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and a fabricated news story designed to look like it was a Fox News article. The headline of the article claimed an “antifa website” had called for “armed protest” at the Fourth of July parade in Washington, continuing a misleading narrative aimed at portraying antifascists as ultra-violent and dangerous.
The fake D.C. antifa gained traction when it was quote-tweeted by Jack Posobiec, a host for the right-wing network One America News Network. In just five hours, nearly a thousand people retweeted Posobiec’s quote-tweet of the fake D.C. antifa account.
Update: None of them showed up https://t.co/SmEGma7qmR— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) July 4, 2019
The account proceeded to go back and forth with Posobiec in a series of exchanges, gaining more attention and more traction over several hours.
John Cardillo, a right-wing commentator for Newsmax, also quote-tweeted the fake D.C. antifa account, sharing its content with his 143,000 Twitter followers.
Another newly created fake antifa account, @ANTIFA__NY, has already been suspended. That account shared similarly inflammatory content and also engaged repeatedly with Posobiec.
It would be easy to shrug these accounts off as harmless parodies, but the responses to their tweets show a lot of people are taking them seriously — and in many instances, they’re provoking anger and even suggestions of violence.
“If they do show up with guns, that will be all the country needs to hunt them all down and throw them in prison for a long, long time,” one user wrote in response to Posobiec’s quote-tweet of the fake @ANTIFA_DC account.
Fake antifa accounts have been used in the past to share similar inflammatory content, seemingly in an attempt to portray antifa as a dangerous and violent movement. The same network of fake accounts also spread disinformation aimed at confusing people and skewing perceptions of the antifascist movement.
Often, this content provokes angry and violent responses. Just last weekend, after unsubstantiated rumours and falsehoods about antifa violence in Portland, Ore., spread widely on social media, death threats and suggestions of using violence against antifa quickly followed.
Far-right extremists are trying to use the unsubstantiated “cement milkshakes” rumor as a justification for shooting and killing #antifa.— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) July 2, 2019
Here’s a bunch of them explicitly stating their intent/desire to do so. pic.twitter.com/zGn9NOPimz
While the accounts in this network may be fake, the consequences of the disinformation they're spreading are very real.