The heavily edited viral video that led to death threats and misplaced condemnation of a group of Kentucky students appears to have originated with a Russian troll.
The Resurgent reports Twitter suspended the account @2020fight Monday after it was traced back as the main source of the initial video. The report suggested the account may have belonged to a Russian troll who shared the misleading video to “provoke division.”
According to CNN, which first investigated the Twitter account, @2020fight claimed to be owned by a California teacher. However, reporters dug deeper and found that the profile photo was of a Brazilian blogger, and the account probably was run by someone overseas.
Here’s more from the report:
The account, with the username @2020fight, was set up in December 2016 and appeared to be the tweets of a woman named Talia living in California. “Teacher & Advocate. Fighting for 2020,” its Twitter bio read. Since the beginning of this year, the account had tweeted on average 130 times a day and had more than 40,000 followers.
Late on Friday, the account posted a minute-long video showing the now-iconic confrontation between a Native American elder and the high school students, with the caption, “This MAGA loser gleefully bothering a Native American protester at the Indigenous Peoples March.”
That version of the video was viewed at least 2.5 million times and was retweeted at least 14,400 times, according to a cached version of the tweet seen by CNN Business.
The video had been posted earlier on Instagram by someone who was at the event, but it was @2020fight’s caption that helped frame the news cycle.
The heavily edited video spawned wide-spread media attention and smears against the pro-life Catholic students. Even though many of the claims have been debunked, the students and their families continue to receive death threats, and their school announced that it would close for the second day in a row Tuesday due to security concerns, Fox News 19 reports.
On Saturday, the video of the students went viral, appearing to show them taunt a Native American man after the March for Life on Friday in Washington, D.C. One of the students who was wearing a Make America Great Again hat, was accused of racism for standing face to face with the Native American man and smiling at him.
However, new, longer video footage shows that there was much more to the story. It prompted many to backtrack their initial condemnation of the students. The video indicates that the students were the ones being harassed by a radical religious group called the Black Hebrew Israelites. The longer footage also shows that it was the Native American man who approached the students, not vice versa, as was initially claimed.
Despite the new evidence, left-wing activist Kathy Griffin and others have been adamant in their criticism of the teens and the teens only. There has been little condemnation of the Black Hebrew Israelite adults who shouted profanities or racial slurs at the teens and Native Americas, or of the Native American man who claimed the students got in his face when video evidence indicates that he approached them, according to Reason.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump came to the students’ defense, saying the mainstream media treated them unfairly.
“Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be,” Trump wrote Tuesday morning on Twitter. “They have captivated the attention of the world, and I know they will use it for the good – maybe even to bring people together. It started off unpleasant, but can end in a dream!”