Thanks Nicole!

So Trump thanked a bot.

Over the weekend, President Trump RT’d a shout-out of praise from a woman on Twitter named Nicole Mincey.

Around the same time, I noticed that Mincey’s tweets had been showing up high in Trump’s twitter threads. And as I mentioned in this tweet from Saturday evening, while I wasn’t sure whatever details there were about her, the accounts had all the tell-tale signs of a grift, most notably because of the stylized personal presentation and the focus on a Trump store where this woman – probably better to call her a “persona” – sold all manner of low-tier Trump shirts, hats, hoodies, etc.

In the course of looking into this I noticed that Trump had actually just RT’d her. That made me even more interested. It certainly seemed like Trump had RT’d a pro-Trump scam account, not a real person, just a faux Trump supporter used as a vehicle to make a quick buck on Trump hats. But then it got a bit more weird.

I dug into “Nicole Mincey’s” online record and I found her store and her ubiquitous up-from-Obama life story. It went like this: Nicole was a young African-American woman from a rough part of Camden, NJ who got tired of seeing no results from President Obama and decided to support Donald Trump. She got so supportive and so inspired by his example of entrepreneurship that she’d started her own Trump merch store.

She’d even been written up in conservative publications like Daily CallerWND and others.

But guess what: the Caller and WND stories were actually “sponsored articles” paid with a cut of the profits from the merch store.

Josh Marshall looked into it some more and found that she had a lot of bot friends.

One thread in “Nicole’s” twitter account was about a new organization she was forming for other pro-Trump black conservatives like her – ‘Young Black Republicans’ or YBR. She had a large number of other bot accounts which were her notional friends, which mainly seemed to exist to retweet her posts. But among these were some with vlog type videos of young African-American men talking up the YBR group. Notionally, these were followers of hers also planning to join YBR and look for support for the group.

AI is pretty advanced. But it can’t do that. Someone got these men to make these videos. As I said, it all seemed like a very elaborate operation just for a merch store.

It’s a merch store AND a Trump presidential campaign. Win-win!

I was off doing other things on Sunday. But Sunday evening I dialed back into the story and a lot had happened. Nicole’s twitter account and all her pro-Trump ‘friend’ bot accounts I’d identified had been suspended by Twitter.

It may be more than just a merch store; the TPM people are still digging into it.

Meanwhile we get to laugh at Don thanking a bot.

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