Twitter Story: Epstein Disinfo Spin Cycle
Updated: Aug 22, 2019
On Saturday, August 10 the notorious pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was found dead awaiting trial at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Manhattan.
It was odd that a person who had attempted suicide just weeks earlier would be able to successfully commit suicide while confined in prison. I checked a trusted source, Caroline Orr, and she was asking a similar question.
Meanwhile, all hell was breaking loose on Twitter. Within hours, #Clintons and #ClintonBodyCount and a little while later #TrumpBodyCount were trending on Twitter. Another trusted source, Justin Hendrix saw it coming:
The conspiracy theories were fast and furious. Here is an example:
For a short while, #TrumpBodyCount was trending. But that was a blip on the screen compared to what was soon to come. Some on the right were angry that #TrumpBodyCount was showing up at the top at all. Twitter algorithms must be manipulating the trend or... perhaps the Russians.
Was it Russia? Russia was paying attention. Epstein's death was at the top of the listing for Russia Today.
But it is not clear how or whether Russia was involved in promoting hashtags, as we had enough lift happening right here from well known conservatives. To attempt to make sense of this, I turned to another trusted source, who is often one of the first to provide visualized Twitter analysis.
Conservative accounts with large audiences is key here. Here is an example conspiracy tweet from conservative comedian and social media influencer, Terrence K. Williams. The tweet from @w_terrence helped knock the trend back toward #ClintonBodyCount.
That same conspiracy theory-based tweet was made even more famous later in the day, when Trump went on to retweet it. There were times (not so long ago) when this would have been unthinkable.
What are the take-aways? Due to the speed and viral nature of social media, a pedophile's death in a prison cell generated near-instantaneous, competing conspiracy theories.
This is part of a vicious cycle with trending Twitter topics and an always-hungry news cycle, what trusted source, Renee DiResta describes as: Make it trend, make it true.
What to do in response? Again, I turn to a trusted source.