Paint is sprinkled around a mock presidential campaign sign at Roosevelt High School in Auburn, N.Y., March 26, 2015. (Andrew O’Connor/AFP/Getty Images)
The tweet just posted by 18-year-old Bryce Covert is a bold red herring. Though the Hoover High School student from upstate New York has demonstrated a remarkable ability to hijack people’s perceptions, his intention is not to get other high school students, or even elected officials, to start tweeting under their own names. What’s more, he has drawn plenty of flak, especially from Twitter users who have called him a troll. So there’s no way he’s trying to convince anybody the candidate he announced for the 2020 election is genuine. This is a prank intended to test Twitter’s commitment to protecting identities and political speech, and the rise of “bots” — automated machines — on social media is generating some of the most vocal pushback, according to CNN Business.
Just over 12 hours ago, Bryce Covert, who goes by the handle Bryce_The_Trump_Society, put up a photo on Twitter with an avatar that’s supposed to represent himself as a senior at Hoover High School in Auburn, N.Y. He also listed himself as a Republican candidate for president, whose running mate would be the 2020 Party nominee. For those wondering, there are no ties, real or made up, between Bryce and the president.
And the social media world just fell all over itself…
— Bart W. () March 26, 2015
As one person pointed out, it doesn’t take very much work for Bryce to make an image so convincing.
Go ahead, scratch your name off the wishlist. Here are 5 other fake presidential candidates. I dare you to choose! — Jamel Kanter () March 26, 2015
In fact, Bryce told CNN Business that he himself is not sure how he pulled it off.
The person impersonating Bryce the Trump Society (ety) Tweeted on Thursday that it’s not even Bryce’s account. Its , really, is Bryce’s actual school account: . And people who know Bryce say it looks like it was modified by an attacker. “I definitely don’t want to seem like I’m trying to do something malicious. I’m just really bored,” Bryce told CNN Business on Thursday. And he hasn’t bothered to delete the bot account that appears to have been created to impersonate him. "Regardless of his own tweets, I think ety has truly gone viral, and while it certainly appears to be Bryce (the student) in his tweet, Bryce’s friends and family would probably agree that he is not running for president." –CNN
There are a number of high school students who would certainly agree Bryce is not.
A high school sophomore outside Los Angeles, for instance, later apologized and said she had been tricked. "I'm really sorry that I didn't make myself clear earlier. I was doing research for a story on a Twitter challenge, and I don't know that part of it," she said, according to The Associated Press. "I'm really sorry to Bryce the Trump Society, and I love you and wish you the best and I will be keeping you in my prayers."
The Twitter challenge is a way to test the limits of the microblogging site’s abuse policy. For now, Bryce remains behind the scene as a victim of this challenge. For now, he’s still tweeting it’s all a prank.