In September 2020, a number of readers requested Snopes to look at a sequence of tweets posted by a Twitter person with the deal with @lifeisasoph, who claimed to be associated to the ex-girlfriend of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man shot a number of occasions by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, some days earlier. Twitter suspended the account on Aug. 31.
Customers posted screenshots of the tweets on The Donald, an internet site well-liked amongst some supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump, particularly since Reddit banned the subreddit The_Donald in June 2020 after its customers repeatedly engaged in hate speech and harassment.
On Sep. 2, the right-leaning discuss radio host Richard Randall posted on Fb this message: “Neither BLM, nor Twitter, care in regards to the lifetime of ‘Sabrina’ the black girl who was sexually assaulted by Jacob Blake proper earlier than police arrived to attempt to arrest him. Sabrina’s aunt was standing up for her on Twitter, however bought banned.”
That caption accompanied screenshots of a number of tweets by @lifeisasoph, which had earlier been posted to Twitter by @Patrici15767099:
On Aug. 31, the right-wing web site Trending Politics printed an article that unquestioningly offered @lifeisasoph’s tweets, and id, at face worth, writing “After the rape sufferer’s aunt took to Twitter to name out the hypocrisy, the social media platform rapidly shut down her account.”
After Twitter suspended @lifeisasoph on Aug. 31, a number of principally right-leaning observers built-in that suspension into their promotion of the account’s claims, sharing @lifeisasoph’s tweets at face worth whereas additionally claiming Twitter had banned the account exactly as a result of its claims had been genuine and correct. For instance, right-wing commentator Evan Kilgore posted a number of screenshots of @lifeisasoph’s tweets, together with the caption:
“INSANE: Twitter suspended the account of Jacob Blake’s ex-girlfriend’s aunt, @lifeisasoph, after she started publicly talking out in opposition to him.”
In step with a broader sample of disinformation, which we’ve examined in depth beforehand, @lifeisasoph’s condemnation of Blake and the racial justice protests that adopted his capturing, got credibility by the declare of a household relationship with Blake’s ex-girlfriend, who has accused him of sexual assault and home abuse. Nonetheless, that declare of a household hyperlink was bogus.
A ‘Grown Man From St. Louis,’ or a Girl From West Africa?
Earlier than Twitter suspended @lifeisasoph, Snopes gathered ample proof of previous tweets from the account which reveal a sample of inauthentic conduct, principally used to advance right-wing speaking factors in on-line debates. Adopting the persona of the aunt of an alleged sexual assault sufferer was the newest, and maybe essentially the most distasteful, instance of that tendency.
All through 2020, @lifeisasoph was offered as a Black girl, repeatedly utilizing that claimed id as a rhetorical weapon. In July, for instance, when Kelly Loeffler, co-owner of the Atlanta Dream WNBA franchise, expressed opposition to the Black Lives Matter motion, @lifeisasoph used their claimed id as a Black girl to assist Loeffler’s place, writing:
“I’m a black girl who opposes the BLM group. You are able to do that as a white particular person too and it not be racist. The leaders of this group are Marxist sellouts.”
Throughout the identical month, Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen tweeted that “It’s not sufficient to be passively not racist, we have to be actively anti-racist.” @lifeisasoph replied: “Hello. Black girl right here. This doesn’t make any sense. Simply be a very good particular person. Fuck.”
In June 2020, throughout a back-and-forth in regards to the Ku Klux Klan, racism, and President Trump, one in all @lifeisasoph’s interlocutors characterised Trump’s previous pronouncements as racist, to which @lifeisasoph replied: “Please inform this 55 12 months outdated black girl, working in Washington DC, preventing to overturn insurance policies Joe Biden wrote, sponsored and endorsed, why I have to vote for the white particular person [approved] candidate…”
Nonetheless, earlier than they offered as a Black, conservative girl fiercely defying white liberal stereotypes of Black views on race and politics, @lifeisasoph offered himself a person. “I’m a grown man who doesn’t cry of the actions of one other grown man,” he wrote in September 2019, throughout an argument in regards to the St. Louis Rams NFL franchise (now the Los Angeles Rams):
In April 2019, he wrote: “Personally I LOVE feminism. Tougher work for girls and simpler intercourse for males? Signal me up,” and in December 2018 he proudly declared to the world “My balls are scorching.”
The person behind the account posted a number of different claims which, though not inherently mutually incompatible, did converse to a broader penchant for issuing self-descriptions that appeared supposed to offer his arguments larger drive or enhanced credibility, quite than being genuine parts of an precise biography.
For instance, in March 2019, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, tweeted in regards to the risks posed by local weather change, writing “The Midwest is drowning as we converse.” @lifeisasoph replied “I reside within the Midwest and I do not know what she’s speaking about.” Just some months later, he advocated for gun rights, tweeting “I reside in a border city. I’ll maintain my weapons thanks.” Later, @lifeisasoph would repeatedly describe himself as a Black girl residing and dealing in Washington D.C.
When the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs NFL franchise launched new guidelines that discouraged or prohibited followers from displaying Native American symbols within the crew’s stadium, @lifeisasoph claimed to be of Quapaw ancestry, and mentioned “it’s disappointing that our heritage is being eliminated.” Throughout an argument in regards to the transatlantic slave commerce, he claimed to be a lady from the West African nation of Benin.
When defending Trump’s alleged description of Haiti and different international locations as “shithole” international locations, @lifeisasoph wrote “Haiti is a shithole nation. Ask my father.”
Maybe most revealing of all, although, had been the inconsistencies and obvious inaccuracies in @lifeisasoph’s tweets in regards to the capturing of Blake, and the costs Blake confronted of allegedly having subjected his ex-girlfriend, with whom he has three youngsters in frequent, to sexual assault and home abuse. Extra detailed details about these expenses will be present in our Aug. 27 reality test.
Initially, on Aug. 25, two days after Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, @lifeisasoph wrote in regards to the capturing within the method of somebody with none private data of the events concerned. He tweeted: “Allegedly, he broke into his ex’s home who was of age then beat her and raped her,” and “Blake had a warrant out for raping somebody,” and “This narrative that he was simply breaking apart a combat is believable I suppose however there’s clearly extra to the story…”
Within the days that adopted, his line of argument modified dramatically, and he started to explain Blake’s ex-girlfriend as his “niece,” repeatedly tweeting claims that Blake had raped her, describing the lady’s struggling, and writing “she’s sitting there watching NBA demand justice for her rapist whereas we’re nonetheless making an attempt to get justice for her.”
On at the least three events, @lifeisasoph referred to his “niece,” Blake’s ex-girlfriend, as “Ri.” He even tweeted out the hashtag #JusticeForRi, which customers on The Donald picked up on, with one poster writing, “She desires us to make use of #JusticeForRi.”
Within the ensuing days, that hashtag unfold, with greater than 1,000 posts throughout Twitter, Instagram, and Fb, most of them containing @lifeisasoph’s Twitter deal with, or screenshots of his tweets, and plenty of of them explicitly pointing to the supposed authority and credibility of that account’s claims and condemnations of the NBA strike, as a result of @lifeisasoph claimed to be the aunt of “Ri” — Blake’s ex-girlfriend.
Nonetheless, that’s not that girl’s title, and never even an acceptable abbreviation for it. The person behind @lifeisasoph, who fraudulently claimed to be a 55 year-old Black girl and the aunt of an alleged sexual assault sufferer with the intention to add credibility to his views on racial justice, seems to have additionally fabricated that nickname out of skinny air.
Utilizing varied strategies and several other publicly accessible sources, Snopes has found the precise id of Blake’s ex-girlfriend. We aren’t naming her, as a result of she alleges to be a sufferer of sexual assault and home abuse, and has to date not chosen to talk publicly. Nonetheless, we will say with certainty that her title is just not “Sabrina,” because the discuss radio host Richard Randall claimed on Fb, and it isn’t in any respect conducive to the nickname “Ri.”
She is an actual particular person, although, and her experiences and model of occasions deserve cautious and sympathetic consideration. As such, her allegations in opposition to Blake are being acted upon by prosecutors in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. However the exploits of a “grown man from St. Louis” who posed as a West African girl and the aunt of an alleged sexual assault sufferer had nothing to do with honoring that girl, and the whole lot to do with boosting and amplifying the political opinions of @lifeisasoph, whoever he’s.