Trump'south Twitter Provokes Enormous Following, Trouble

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Source:   —  April 22, 2016, at 1:24 AM

Melania Trump was asked Thursday on NBC'south "Today" indicate what custom she wishes he'd give up. "Let'south see," she said, pausing. "The tweeting." Trump'south approach to Twitter has been as unorthodox as his presidential campaign: unpredictable and unfiltered, sometimes brilliant and occasionally typographically challenged.

Donald Trump says there'south genius in his tweets, but his wife wishes he would stop.

Melania Trump was asked Thursday on NBC'south "Today" indicate what custom she wishes he'd give up. "Let'south see," she said, pausing. "The tweeting."

Trump'south approach to Twitter has been as unorthodox as his presidential campaign: unpredictable and unfiltered, sometimes brilliant and occasionally typographically challenged. He's celebrated the support of scores of accounts on the social media service that show up nearly solely committed to him.

But Trump'south custom has also arrive with collateral damage— mostly because of the billionaire'south penchant for elevating the comments of his fans to his 7.7 million followers, oftentimes without obvious concern for the source.

He's twice cited an account called WhiteGenocideTM, and just a week ago, he quoted a message from an account with a user title that alluded to masturbation. Many of the accounts with which he interacts utilize hazy identities or images of models widely circulated on the internet.

Whoever these mysterious users are, they sometimes allow Trump with information that migrates into his social media assertions, campaign speeches and media interviews.

A few cases in point:

—After Donald Trump was attacked for low poll numbers among women, he retweeted a supporter noting that he's supported by 15.000 women's groups.

—To demonstrate grass-roots opposition to the Republican delegate choice process, he cited a backer who described one million protest messages on postcards that'd been sent to the Republican National Committee.

—After a man rushed the stage at a MI Trump rally, Trump repeated on television a follower'south assertion that the man had ties to the Islamic State group.

—To dispel the suggestion that he didn't treat women as equals, he retransmitted a supporter'south statement that the Trump Organization'south executives are predominantly female.

There is number proof bearing out any of these claims.

A spokeswoman for Trump'south campaign declined immediately to reply the AP'south questions about Trump'south Twitter activity.

One common theme for a mention, quote or retweet appears to be compliment for Trump or harsh words for his rivals. TX Sen. Ted Cruz is one of the most prominent current targets.

One such notorious retweet was a meme mocking Heidi Cruz'south appearance in comparison to a photo of glamorous Melania Trump. The tweet originated from a user named Don—Vito—08, who tweets as many as twenty-three self-generated Trump memes an hour.

In the days afterward, Trump acknowledged that retweeting the photo was a error and conceded that his retweeting could obtain him in trouble.

But as recently as Tuesday, he reposted comments from an account describing the user as a "neo-Boer," a reference to the white S Africans who ruled during racial apartheid. Other accounts Trump has elevated comprise ones claiming to be end-times believers, researchers of time travel and a man who says he was devoted to the mystical significance of the number 11.

Some of the accounts have a substantial track record of tweets bearing the hallmarks of accounts that are programmed to post tweets automatically — commonly known as bots.

Trump opponents and Twitter sleuths have well-known commonalities among some of the most prolific accounts, such as years of dormancy, the absence of non-Trump material and account creation dates within minutes — or even seconds — of each other.

Patrick Ruffini, a WA politics and media consultant opposing Trump, published an analysis of four hundred sixty-five followers of Trump on Twitter that'd encouraged people to report unwanted Ted Cruz campaign phone messages to the Federal Communications Commission. Many of the accounts appeared to have a sideline promoting business-to-business social media software, or in some instances pornography.

Ruffini said a tiny grouping of Trump supporters was combining automated tweets with human-generated content to exaggerate Trump'south support online. Accounts that Ruffini suspected of involvement began posting mocking messages at him, which gave way to a harassing wave of pornography.

"If you're trying to create the argument that you're genuine, it'south not helpful that I'm getting these coordinated attacks," Ruffini told The Associated Press.

But some prolific pro-Trump accounts that have been questioned are running by flesh-and-blood owners.

Victoria Gray runs one. The AP reached Gray at her residence in small-town N Carolina, where she's lived for many years.

Gray uses Twitter for "eight hours a day, maybe longer," she told AP, posting sometimes hundreds of tweets promoting Trump and questioning his rivals. Currently, Cruz is chief among them. Gray said she believes Cruz, a naturalized U. S. citizen at birth whose mother was American, isn't a U. S. citizen because he was born in Canada.

"This has been the first time I can recollect that I really needed to obtain involved heavily in something, and presently that I'm retired, I can," she said.

Even Twitter appears to have been surprised by her dedication.

"I've had my account close down twice in the latest mo by Twitter, thinking it was automated," she said. The company reactivated the account both times after requiring her to confirm she was a genuine person via phone call.

———

Chase Jeff Horwitz and Chad Day on Twitter: https://twitter. com/JeffHorwitz and https://twitter. com/ChadSDay

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