Inside 4chan's campaign to expose the "next fake Trump victim"
On Wednesday, a host of women came forward and reported that Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, had sexually assaulted them. These allegations come just days after Trump denied to Anderson Cooper at the second presidential debate that he had assaulted women — contrary to what he'd boasted about in a leaked 2005 video.
Many Trump supporters responded by smearing the accusers on Twitter. These women are "opportunistic media whores," one wrote, "who cry sexual assault for notoriety and a paycheck." "It's amazing how these women waited 30 years and several WikiLeaks releases to come forward, all on same day," tweeted another.
These sexist responses were all organized by a hashtag: #NextFakeTrumpVictim.
The campaign comes from the alt-right hangout and notorious 4chan troll hub /pol/, where archived threads show users plotting to discredit Trump's accusers as early as Saturday, Oct. 8. The user who started the thread said he had "inside knowledge of the DNC and some future attacks they plan to levy against Trump."
4chan rejoices over #NextFakeTrumpVictim
Posts on 4chan and Reddit show that Trump supporters rallied to get the hashtag to trend in the hopes that it would discredit the media and change the narrative by casting doubt on the women's claims.
"This is huge because it will counter the current barrage of unfounded claims that Trump abuses women and is a pedophile," said an anonymous user. "Let's do this. BUMP THIS THREAD!"
"THE DONALD IS BEING SLANDERED!" a user posted on 4chan Thursday. "WE HAVE TO PROTECT HIM! We're getting "#NextFakeTrumpVictim" trending on twitter. Keep at it lads, it's working! ... KEEP THIS BUMPED! DON'T LET THE SHILLS SLIDE!"
It appears to be working. On Thursday, #NextFakeTrumpVictim was trending in the United States.
A Thursday post in /r/The_Donald, the largest and most influential Trump subreddit, read, "WE DID IT!!! #NextFakeTrumpVictim is TRENDING!!! We the narrative now!"
#NextFakeTrumpVictim is classic victim blaming
Why don't more women come forward with accusations of sexual assault, these Trump supporters wanted to know. Why didn't they speak up earlier? Even MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said on Thursday, "there have been a thousand of these reports already. I'm just asking why all of a sudden this stuff is blowing up in October." The @JoeNBC account tweeted, then deleted, "I'm skeptical about the *timing*... Talk about an October surprise."
Arguably, this is exactly the reason more women don't speak up about sexual assault: They're discredited and shamed at every turn. #NextFakeTrumpVictim is "attempting to bring to life the greatest fear of sexual-assault survivors who choose to speak out against powerful men: that no one will believe them," noted the Cut.
More Trump allegations
This isn't the first time the alt-right has used its collective force to falsely tip the narrative in Trump's favor. Following the first presidential debate, 4chan used Airplane Mode Toggling to rig online polls, flooding them with endless Trump votes for erroneous results. Trump tweeted these results proudly.
The allegations that surfaced on Wednesday are not the first instances of women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct, Jezebel reported in an updating list.
Aside from the six women who reported sexual assault this week, Ivana Trump, the candidate's ex-wife, said Trump raped her in 1989. Jill Harth sued Trump in the '90s for allegedly groping her during business meetings. Former Miss Washington Cassandra Searles posted on Facebook in June that Trump groped her. This year, a Jane Doe filed a suit against Trump, accusing him of raping her in 1994, when she was 13 years old.
The campaign to counter the next revelation about Trump is already underway.
4chan users are buzzing about another hashtag they plan to spread on Friday: #MediasNextTrumpLie. Anonymous users on /pol/ have predicted that a news outlet will release video of Trump using racist speech. If, or when, it happens, they'll be ready to derail the conversation.