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The Week on Politwoops: Politicians duped into retweets

Friday, April 10, 2015 8:51
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(Before It's News)

By The Sunlight Foundation

An image of a deleted retweet from the campaign account of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Deleted tweet via Politwoops.

Politwoops is starting to see more opportunists trick politicians into retweeting embarrassing things that they later delete. Politicians generally use retweets to publicize supporters or positive coverage and use favorites in the digital equivalent of the “Clinton thumb.” Sometimes these shout-outs can backfire.

Earlier this week, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., launched his presidential campaign and retweeted dozens of fans who shared images of themselves posing with #StandWithRand signs. Among those his account retweeted was a photoshopped image showing James Holmes, an alleged mass murderer of 12 people in Aurora, Colo. Paul’s account deleted the retweet after 11 minutes and didn’t elaborate why it was removed.

The original image, seen here on The Telegraph’s website, shows Holmes posing with a llama. That picture was then cropped and altered to include a hand holding the #StandWithRand sign. In this instance, there was significant effort to obfuscate the identity of the original photo to make it seem recent, but politicians have fallen for much more obvious bait in the past.

Two deleted retweets from the official account of Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

Deletions via Politwoops.

Last November, in the run up to Veterans Day, the official account of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., encouraged followers to share photos of vets. As the photos of military family members and individuals poured in, Issa’s account retweeted them. In the rush, his account did not notice that some were sharing photos of well-known murderers wearing uniforms. Later, after people pointed out the error, his account deleted the retweets that included images of Lee Harvey Oswald, William Calley, Timothy McVeigh and Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler.

This week’s deletion from Paul highlights the increasing need for political social media accounts to be judicious about who and what they retweet.

The Sunlight Foundation is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike.


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