The March For Our Lives took place on March 24 in cities all across the nation. In countless cities and towns, protestors took to the streets, urging lawmakers to enact stricter gun control laws and bring an end to school shootings. The primary march took place in Washington D.C. and was organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida, shooting, which took the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school on Valentines Day. One such survivor, Emma Gonzalez, co-founded the #NeverAgain movement and gave an impassioned speech at the event. Because of the attention she's receiving, many gun rights advocates have begun spreading doctored images of her supposedly tearing apart the constitution.
The hoax was debunked in a tweet by Don Moynihan, a professor at the University of Wisconsin.
Justy a sample of what NRA supporters are doing to teenagers who survived a massacre (real picture on the right). https://t.co/czX7IHD8ur— Don Moynihan (@Don Moynihan) 1521936898.0
On the left, Gonzalez appears to be tearing apart a copy of the Constitution. This image was spread among many gun right advocates, but is actually a doctored version of the photo on the right, taken from a Teen Vogue video which was meant to accompany an op-ed written by Gonzalez.
Here's the original video for comparison:
Apparently, the false image of Gonzalez was one of the top results when Moynihan searched her name on Twitter.
It was originally tweeted by an accounted titled "Linda NRA Supporter" and was retweeted over 65 thousand times. It quickly became clear, however, that "Linda" was no more than a Russian bot hoping to further partisan divisions in the United States.
Moynihan suspected this might be the case.
Of course, its impossible to know if the self-described NRA supporter is actually a Russian troll seeking to sow di… https://t.co/1psaS5iYxh— Don Moynihan (@Don Moynihan) 1521937153.0
And even if the 8 digits in "Linda's" handle weren't a dead give-away, Twitter confirmed Moynihan's suspicions shortly thereafter.
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
Other news outlets had the same idea as the Russians, however:
Gab, a publication described by The Washington Post as "a popular refuge for the alt-right" also posted a doctored GIF of Gonzalez supposedly ripping up the constitution. They used the same video as their source and, before long, the edited image had received 1.8K retweets and over 3K favorites.
Hours later, long after most users were left to assume the image was real, Gab posted another tweet claiming the GIF was satirical. The clarifying tweet was retweeted a mere 147 times (as of the writing of this article).
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