Members of 4chan’s /pol/ messageboard along with members of Reddit’s /r/the_donald are currently circulating images like the one below.
Trump supporters are pointing to a general election thread on 4chan from early November 2016 as proof that the dossier was a prank.
In the thread, a user screenshot a tweet linking to a Mother Jones article about a veteran spy giving the FBI information about a possible Russian operation to cultivate Trump.
An anonymous user with the ID number zNaYmBg5 commented below the tweet writing, "So they took what I told Rick Wilson and added a Russian spy angle to it," implying that they were the source of the information reported by Mother Jones.
Another user replied, asking if it was "the sextape orgy thing."
Anonymous user zNaYmBg5 responded, claiming that they had sent something to a source and that there was originally no mention of Russian spies.
Another user then asked if user zNaYmBg5 had been gaslighting Rick Wilson and asked for proof.
Then user zNaYmBg5 replied cryptically, refusing to prove how they purportedly influenced the Mother Jones piece, while referencing a revenge plot against Rick Wilson.
They're referring to Republican political strategist Rick Wilson. He went viral in January of 2016 after he called Trump supporters "childless single men who masturbate to anime" during an MSNBC interview.
After Wilson's interview, the clip spread and 4chan organized a harassment campaign against him that lasted for months. Wilson continues to fight with Trump-supporting anime fans on Twitter.
Wilson told BuzzFeed News that he's not the source of the dossier and that the first time he saw it was when he clicked the link to the BuzzFeed News story Tuesday night.
Adding to the confusion, a Twitter user going by @trsprudence claimed to be the original anonymous user zNaYmBg5 from November.
The @trsprudence Twitter account also claimed that the dossier was given to Wilson as part of last year's revenge plot for making fun of anime on MSNBC.
Many 4chan users are claiming the dossier is an example of "watersports" fan fiction. His tweets are now being shared on Reddit and 4chan.
Trump supporters are also circulating fake dossier passages.
One that's appearing most regularly on Twitter describes Trump, dressed like a baby, renting a movie theater to watch anime pornography with a crowd of prostitutes.
The fake passages are being swirled together with real ones on social media, leading to widespread misinformation about what is or isn't in the dossier.
Wilson told BuzzFeed News that he doesn't believe it's a coincidence that Trump supporters are crediting 4chan.
"The eagerness of them grabbing on to this 4chan thing shows you that there's some nervousness," he said. "They don't want him to be the guy who was pushed over the finish line by these forces that are overt enemies of our country."
Comments from Reddit and 4chan seem to back up the idea that Trump supporters are organizing misinformation campaigns. Screenshots from 4chan threads are being tweeted at reporters. And there's a coordinated effort on Reddit to get the CIA to be the first term on Google when you search "fake news."
The misinformation campaign appears to be gaining steam.
If you google "4chan Trump" at the time of publishing, you get links to right-wing websites that are passing off the 4chan rumors as fact.
The top story on Google is currently "4Chan Claims To Have Fabricated Anti-Trump Report As A Hoax" written by a "Tyler Durden" on the website zerohedge.com. It has 10,000 shares on Facebook. In the first page of results, there are also write-ups by sites like neo-Nazi publication Daily Stormer, The Gateway Pundit, and The Free Thought Project.
Ryan Broderick is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Ryan Broderick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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