President Trump talks a lot of game when it comes to the economy. But it appears one economy—the economy of "deplorable" Twitter bots—has turned on him, and is now flipping Barack Obama merchandise. Sad! What's more amusing is that some of them haven't even bothered to change their pro-Trump bios.
A couple of months ago, an extremely popular mug saying, "Enjoying my hot cup of LIBERAL TEARS all thanks to President-elect Donald J. Trump," began making its way around Twitter. The phrase was already a meme at that point, but for some reason, Trump supporters preferred it in drinkable form. Photos of the mug were all over the site, mostly from #MAGA accounts trying to hawk them.
But, as a report from The Outline discovered, most of these accounts were almost certainly bots. And they all linked to an online seller at TeeChip.com. If you haven't heard of them, be thankful, because it turns out TeeChip is the target of numerous customer complaints to the Better Business Bureau for shady practices, not limited to alleged fraud and art theft.
Motherboard checked out a few of these accounts and noticed the "LIBERAL TEARS" merch had swiftly been replaced by a #ThankYouObama mug. Again, the links directed to a page on TeeChip's site. Likewise, a Facebook page that had also been advertising the Trump mug now sells the one with Barack and Michelle Obama on it.
The bar is low when it comes to bot activity on Twitter, but it's mildly funny seeing ones with pro-Trump bios tweet "THE GREATEST MUG OF OBAMA." Whoever created them obviously has no qualms about shilling across the aisle.
Still, while an actual human isn't behind the most active of these accounts, @SherriH83856824, its profile photo was stolen from a very real person.
The woman shown in a "Make America Great Again" hat is actually a sophomore at the University of Buffalo named Jennie Gibson. In November last year, Gibson was interviewed and photographed by the school's student paper about the reasons she supports Trump.
As you can see, these are clearly the same photo:
We reached out to Gibson and asked how she felt about her photo being used by a fake Twitter account.
"Frustrated. They do not have permission to use the photo and I do not know who to contact in order to have it removed. I am not affiliated with their sales and I do not appreciate being used as their face," Gibson told Motherboard.
Unfortunately, according to Twitter's impersonation policy, fake accounts that pretend to be real people are only subject to suspension. Under Twitter's own rules, an account like @SherriH83856824 might be perfectly fine, since it doesn't necessarily "portray another person in a misleading or deceptive manner." Even though "Sherri" comes across as a real person, it might not be seen as intentionally appropriating Gibson's personality.
If there's a positive side to Trump being President of the United States, maybe its that his bots will finally shut up.