Did Rashida Tlaib Tweet About America ‘Raping and Pillaging’ Her People?

Political trolls take advantage of the fact that capital I's and lower case L's can easily be mistaken for one another.

  • Published 10 January 2019
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Claim

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib tweeted that "Americans have spent decades raping and pillaging my people."

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Origin

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.

This account was eventually deleted (along with the offending tweet), but we managed to find (and archive) a cached version of it:

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: