Fake accounts posing as GOP leaders on Parler are selling Trump hats and CBD oil: report

Fake accounts posing as GOP leaders on Parler are selling Trump hats and CBD oil: report
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BuzzFeed News reported on Wednesday that it had discovered around 50 accounts on the social network site Parler posing as fake GOP leaders and claiming to sell CBD oil endorsed by first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpOnly Trump can fix vaccine hesitancy among his supporters Trump discussed pardoning Ghislaine Maxwell: book Jill Biden appears on Vogue cover MORE.

An account posing as one run by Vice President Pence shared a link to buy a “Commemorative Medallion” on Dec. 5. The same account later shared a message from a “Team Trump” account that promoted CBD oil.

The account’s posts received hundreds of thousands of likes within a few days.

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Pence’s office confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the account was fake. After the news outlet contacted Parler, the website banned the fake account. About 50 other accounts posing as high-ranking GOP officials like chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsWashington Post calls on Democrats to subpoena Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Meadows for testimony on Jan. 6 Trump to Pence on Jan. 6: 'You don't have the courage' Trump said whoever leaked information about stay in White House bunker should be 'executed,' author claims MORE, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Senators say they have deal on 'major issues' in infrastructure talks MORE (R-S.C.) and Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York state Senate candidate charged in riot Trump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report GOP senator clashes with radio caller who wants identity of cop who shot Babbitt MORE Jr. were also discovered selling products to Trump supporters on Parler.

John Matze, Parler’s CEO, said, “I believe most of those fraudulent accounts were a sad attempt to circumvent our advertising network.”

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These fake accounts were able to trick people by gaining verification and then changing their names afterwards. Users can receive a red “Parler citizen” badge by uploading a government ID. However, only accounts with gold “verified influencer” are confirmed to be run by the same person in the account.

BuzzFeed notes that these fake accounts are indicative of Parler’s growing popularity. The site has become the favorite of many in the right-wing community who disagree with Twitter’s rules and guidelines that limit misinformation and abusive content.

Parler conversely places almost no limits on what can be said on its site. The website currently bans criminal activity, child pornography, terrorism, copyright violations, fraud and spam.

However, many prominent GOP leaders like Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Only two people cited by TSA for mask violations have agreed to pay fine MORE (Texas) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOnly two people cited by TSA for mask violations have agreed to pay fine Senators reach billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill GOP Rep. Cawthorn says he wants to 'prosecute' Fauci MORE (Ky.) who said they would be leaving Twitter for Parler never actually left the social media giant. Shannon McGregor who studies social media at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told NPR in November that Parler is unlikely to steal enough members from Twitter to make a difference.

"All these people have accounts on Twitter because that's where journalists are and that's where the press is," McGregor said to NPR. "If they actually left Twitter, they would be less newsworthy."

McGregor noted that other social media sites have attempted to cater to right-wing individuals in the past, most notably Gab. The alternative site soon became notorious for becoming rife with anti-Semitic, white nationalist content. NPR noted that the accused Pittsburgh synagogue shooter was a user on Gab.