Right Wing Group Used Fake Identities to Stalk Rep. Weiner
Rep. Anthony Weiner has announced his resignation, so the media feeding frenzy has subsided.
But even though Weiner admitted to his “sexting” transgressions, his behavior wasn’t the only creepy thing about this scandal; for months, Weiner was stalked online by a group of extreme right wingers who may have created fake identities, posing as underage girls. And whoever was responsible for the fake accounts went as far as providing a fraudulent California driver’s license to Mediaite.
A Twitter user employing a fake name posed as a 16-year-old California high school girl in May and tried to get Mr. Weiner to be her prom date, according to people with knowledge of the communications and a review of documents. The person behind another Twitter account created under a fake name claimed to be her classmate and offered to provide the group with incriminating evidence about Mr. Weiner.
Mr. Weiner, who resigned on Thursday after admitting he had sent explicit photos and messages to multiple women on social media sites, had already been the subject of intense focus on Twitter by the conservative group, which calls itself the #bornfreecrew.
One Twitter user the group observed seeking to interact with Mr. Weiner was called “Nikki Reid.” She started an online campaign to get Mr. Weiner to be her prom date at Hollywood High School in May, using the account @starchild111. Within days after Mr. Weiner started following her, a Twitter user, also using a fake name, Marianela Alicea, and pretending to be Nikki Reid’s classmate, contacted a member of the #bornfreecrew and said she had information about Mr. Weiner, but never provided any.
But there is no evidence that either girl exists. There is no Nikki Reid or Marianela Alicea enrolled at Hollywood High School. In response to requests from a reporter from the blog Mediaite, a woman claiming to be Nikki Reid’s mother provided documentation to substantiate her identity and her daughter’s identity. But records show the street address the woman provided does not list anyone named Reid as an occupant. State officials in California have confirmed that the driver’s license this woman provided to Mediaite was false, as well.
This kind of cyberstalking has become a well-used tool in the right wing’s box of dirty tricks, and Little Green Footballs has also been targeted by groups of wingnuts who create “sock puppet” accounts on Twitter, often with usernames similar to mine, or those of LGF readers. These people try to trick LGF fans into following them, and they sometimes send tweets pretending to be associated with LGF while saying outrageous things.
This is one reason why your LGF Account Settings page now has a space for you to enter your Twitter username; if you do this, your user profile (visible to other registered users when they click your avatar in a comment) will contain a “Follow” button that links directly to your Twitter profile page. (The “Follow” button also appears next to your username in any LGF Pages that you post.) This lets people verify your Twitter name, if they suspect someone is impersonating you.
I’d also encourage any LGF readers who are being stalked in this way to report the impersonation to Twitter. If the impersonation is clearly malicious and intended to mislead, Twitter will close the account after you provide them with verification of your identity.