Wednesday morning, conservative corners of the internet were furious to discover that @HopeHicks45, the Twitter account belonging to Donald Trump’s newly official communications director, had been suspended. The only problem? That’s not Hope Hicks. @HopeHicks45 was nothing more than an imposter.
The ordeal kicked off when journalist Jules Suzdaltsev noted that what appeared to be Hicks’ account was not verified by the service, surprising for such a prominent public figure. Less than a day later, Twitter suspended that same account:
The new Communications Director for the White House is doing a great job so far! pic.twitter.com/w0o1wNJfVc
— Jules (@jules_su) September 13, 2017
Not long after, Pizzagate champion and Trump retweet recipient Jack Posobiec started stirring up an outrage campaign. “Twitter has suspended Trump’s communications director @HopeHicks45 one day after she was appointed,” he said in a tweet over a screenshot of the suspended account. At the time of publication, Posobiec’s tweet has been retweeted more than 1,500 times.
That was just the beginning. “Alt-left targeted her account and mass-reported it. Twitter took it down,” he said shortly after. Posobiec then followed up with, “This is a horrific sign for our democracy when @Twitter refuses to allow our President’s own communications channel with the people.” As well as, “Twitter must issue an apology to Ms. Hicks, as well as the United States of America. Immediately.”
The Political Insider, a conservative DC-focused blog, at least remained somewhat skeptical: “Can you believe it? Not even 24 hours after being put in charge of White House communications, a Twitter account that allegedly belongs to Hicks has been suspended. It should be noted that it’s not verified if the account, which has the handle @HopeHicks45, really belongs to Hicks. But if you google ‘Hope Hicks twitter,’ it’s the very first result you get.”
Others, however, showed less caution and also introduced Nazis. “This is the NAZI behavior of the Left, and it’s very exposed today…As Hope Hicks has been deleted by Twitter with no reasoning behind the suspension,” wrote the inimitable PuppetStringNews.com.
Another far-right conspiracy favorite, ZeroHedge.com, went all in: “We suspect Twitter will be more than a little embarrassed by this – it appears Jack Dorsey’s sophisticated new anti-free-speech, censorship AI algos are really just mob-rule-driven – if enough people don’t like what you are saying (or may say), they will comply… We anxiously await President Trump’s response.”
They won’t have to wait much longer. The White House has confirmed to WIRED that @HopeHicks45 was never actually Hicks’ account to begin with. In fact, that’s why it was suspended.
Even Dorsey, Twitter’s founder, weighed in in response to one of Posobiec’s tweets: “False. We will verify Hope Hicks when she actually joins Twitter.”
To be fair, whoever did make the fake Hicks account did a decent job giving it the same tone as the official accounts of other Trump administration staffers. Though the original account is gone, you can still view it through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
Still, as was pointed out originally, this account was never verified. And it wasn’t suspended out of any sort of political censorship, but because it violated Twitter’s impersonation policy. All of which is to say, everyone can calm down.
The weird part, of course, isn’t that Twitter suspended a fake account but that the White House communications director doesn’t appear to have a Twitter account at all. Then again, why bother?