Content Warning: This piece references a meme that contains violent and racist language.
Right-wing figures and outlets — including Fox News’ Tucker Carlson — amplified a troll account and its deceptive tweet which used a racist 4chan meme to spread anti-trans sentiment following a mass shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.
On March 27, a gunman, who police have identified as a trans person, allegedly killed six people at a Christian school in Nashville.
Following the shooting, Twitter account @TNDtracker — which has since been suspended — used a meme from 4chan, used a 2020 image from a magazine of a person holding a gun, and added text seemingly advocating for a “#transdayofvengeance.”
The tweet was clearly a hoax:
- The handle of the account, @TNDtracker, was a reference to a racist meme from 4chan called “Total N - - - - - Death,” or “TND.” And fitting with the account’s handle, the account’s activity before it was banned showed clearly racist activity targeting Black people. 4chan users even claimed in response to the tweet that “it’s a joke post” and the account’s handle showed “that’s one of us.”
- The tweet itself, about “christcucks,” was, as noted by Know Your Meme, using language from 4chan that called “for the extermination of Black people through different means, including beheading, performing a roundhouse kick, crucifixion and defecation into their food.” Most of the tweet simply replaced the N-word with “christcuck.” (The “Kill, Behead, Roundhouse” phrase is now closely associated with the TND meme, as noted by Know Your Meme.)
- Additionally, the image in the tweet is actually from a 2020 article from Huck Magazine about transgender people arming themselves. The article includes a photo of transgender woman and MMA fighter Alana McLaughlin, who is nicknamed “Lady Feral,” holding a gun. McLaughlin herself called out the account using her image, tweeting, “Another sock account trying to stir up anti-trans violence using my pictures. Please report.” (McLaughlin also confirmed to The Associated Press that she “didn’t author the post.”)
Despite this clear evidence that the tweet was a hoax, the tweet spread on far-right message boards and on social media. Those sharing it online included a former Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate and a Georgia county Republican Party.
Multiple right-wing outlets and figures also shared the hoax. That included:
- Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who read the tweet on his show, saying it was from a “trans activist.” (Carlson has previously praised 4chan.)
- Breitbart: “In one tweet, a transgender individual with an AR-15 and a handgun is pictured along with the words ‘Kill christcucks. Behead christcucks.’”
- The Daily Mail: “One activist using the hashtag on a since suspended account posed with an assault rifle and is threatening to 'kill christcucks.'”
- The Gateway Pundit: “In one photo, a trans activist poses what the left calls ‘an assault rifle’ and threatens to ‘kill christc**ks.’”
- New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor Miranda Devine, who wrote, “Twitter has been removing thousands of posts of trans activists holding guns and threatening violence against Christians: ‘Kill christcucks,’ one said.”
The spread of the hoax is not the first 4chan-linked hoax to gain traction online (nor was it the only online hoax regarding the Nashville shooting). In 2020, for instance, a 4chan hoax about Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts spread so widely online that it even reached multiple cable news networks and was invoked by a member of the Electoral College in Texas. The 4chan-originating QAnon conspiracy theory has also had a significant social impact. Additionally, 4chan users have repeatedly launched efforts to harm the LGBTQ community, including trying to fool people into thinking LGBTQ activists support pedophiles.
Update (3/31/23): Language in this article has been clarified to reflect reports that the police shot and killed the alleged shooter.