In January 2019, a screenshot of a tweet purportedly posted by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a Muslim, about how “Americans” had been “raping and pillaging” her people for decades began to spread on social media networks:
This was not a genuine tweet from Rashida Tlaib.
Although some posters presented this screenshot as if it showed a message that Tlaib had tweeted and then quickly deleted, this tweet was never posted to the congresswoman’s Twitter account.
A common tactic of Internet trolls is to impersonate celebrities and politicians by creating social media handles that resemble the legitimate handles of their targets. In this case, someone created a handle which used a capital “I” instead of a lower case “L” in the congresswoman’s last name.
While it may be difficult to discern the difference between “TIaib” (with a capital “I”) and Tlaib (with a lower case “L”) due to the most prevalent font on Twitter, when we cut and pasted this handle into a word document and change the font to Comic Sans, it was clear that this was the tactic employed by this impostor account:
In addition to the differing URLs, viewers could have deduced that this tweet was fake due to the lack of a verified check mark. In addition to correctly spelling her own name, Rashida Tlaib’s genuine Twitter account has been verified by by Twitter: