The truth about the day our blog Couple of Men went “viral” because our photo got stolen by internet trolls to connect the LGBTQ+ community to pro-pedophilia. We actually just came back from our Christmas holidays with Karl’s family in Germany when we received emails from our Twitter followers and an NBC journalist. What we did not know back then was that an internet troll used our photo tweeting about pro-pedophilia and going viral among far-right politicians, especially in the United States of America. This is when our unexpected Twitter story begins… Experience the last seven days on Twitter through a couple of men‘s eyes.
The Truth about the Twitter Troll
It was the week before New Years 2018 when we received, totally out of the blue, two emails from followers on our Twitter informing us about a Twitter account (we know now it was an internet troll) using our photo as the main picture calling himself Alex, a “Bi-sexual, Intersectional feminist, Nomap ally. #resist” and posting pro-Pedophilia posts with a huge number of likes, retweets, and comments. Honestly, we did not take it too seriously in the beginning as we are facing photo infringements regularly across the internet. But this time, it turned out to be different. It got personal since our photo was smiling to any Twitter user when reading unbelievable and disgusting posts about how “There is literally nothing wrong with pedophilia”. It was clearly an attack against us and the LGBTQ+ community with a photo of us as the main picture.
Difficulties with Twitter Reporting
But what to do? The next day, Karl started to read into all the posts the fake person “Alex” was posting which were on one hand very LGBTQ+ supportive but on the other side incorporating organically pro-Pedophilia tweets, opinions, and posts in between the other retweets. We decided to act and to report the profile and all tweets to Twitter. But that turned out to be not that easy. We got stuck in a loop of reporting where we had to prove that we are the owners of the pic, that the reported profile was really impersonating us, and we had to write emails back and forth, taking hours before we got a reply. We honestly got somewhat lost in the reporting and decided to just officially tweet and appeal to everyone reading the posts to please report the tweets and profile. It did not take too long before we received the first messages back from supporters asking how to report something like that. Definitely a thing, Twitter has to simplify.
Please everyone: Report this person as Vaceyi is using our photo illegally violating our copyright.
We are a gay couple traveling the world to support LGBTQ+ worldwide.
We do NOT support pedophile humans abusing underaged children and youths.
Thank you for your help!
— Couple of Men (@coupleofmen) 29. Dezember 2018
Ben Collins from NBC News Reached out First
We were just about to switch off the light when we received an email from NBC News journalist Ben Collins who reached out to us about the incident. He was asking about a statement and the option to talk to one of us on the phone about the whole story which had much bigger consequences than we initially thought of (later more about that). Two days later, Karl had a short WhatsApp call to New York with Ben Collins who was very interested and supportive at the same time. He promised to investigate further to let that kind of things not happen to good people including reaching out to the Security department of Twitter. That all happened three days ago.
New + exclusive:
Trolls posing as gay men on Twitter are trying to falsely link LGBT acceptance to pedophilia.
Last week, a “pro-pedophilia” account went viral, receiving 16,000 replies to one tweet, including from some prominent people on the far-right.https://t.co/JprJi1Xc1O
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) 4. Januar 2019
Not Every News Publisher Got It Right
It was Saturday, January 5th, 2019, and we are overwhelmed by the coverage of the story which got viral all around the globe on outlets, magazines, and news websites starting with NBC News, The Advocate, Instinct Magazine, Gay Star News, PinkNews, Towleroad, LGBTQ Nation, and Paste Magazine. Not everyone got the story right though and some media created a different turn of events like how our Twitter account got hijacked for example. This is NOT true and one of the reasons why we decided to write our blog article to set the record straight (as far as two gay men can do that, of course).
Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an
Sieh dir diesen Beitrag auf Instagram an
What we did not know: The Huge Impact
Ben Collins, the NBC journalist, found out, that this “pro-pedophilia” account went viral, receiving 16,000 replies to one tweet, including from some prominent people on the far-right politics in the United States who used the tweets of this fake persona with our photo for their own political good. He accused “us” and the LGBTQ+ community that we finally showed our true face by tweeting about the troll account, saying “Many warned this day would come.” We are still shocked about how silly, naive, and easily politicians are using opinions and tweets of trolls for their political advantage.
The Original Article on NBC News, January 4th, 2019:
Take your action now, don’t hesitate
Everyone, left, center, or right, straight, black, white, and/or LGBTQ+: Do not believe everything you read online without double-checking the source, even when it supports your opinion well. Always take immediate actions if you encounter something similar on any social media channel. Everyone has the right to communicate their opinion, but when an opinion turns into hate speech, harassment, threats, abuse, or insult of any kind, everybody should feel obligated to take immediate action. If you are suspicious of the truthfulness or a hidden agenda of a profile, opinion, or comment, report these comments and posts always when you encounter them. It is our obligation to keep society including social networks free of hate, fear, and #fakenews.