Twitter Blue subscribers immediately claimed the White House U-Haul incident was an FBI “psyop”

Reactions to the incident on Twitter mirror reactions from users on fringe social media platforms

Photo of the UHaul truck that crashed near the White House; a Twitter blue checkmark enlarged over a Nazi flag on the ground

Citation Molly Butler / Media Matters

After a suspect crashed a U-Haul truck into security barriers near the White House and reportedly waved what appeared to be a Nazi flag upon exiting the vehicle, reactions from Twitter Blue subscribers and users of fringe social media platforms were nearly indistinguishable, with users immediately pushing baseless conspiracy theories about the alleged attack. On Twitter and fringe platforms, including Truth Social, Gab, Gettr, and Telegram, users claimed that the incident was staged by federal agents as a contrived “psyop.”

As Media Matters has documented, right-wing media have a history of resorting to calling acts of bigotry and violence “false flags” in an attempt to deflect blame for their incendiary rhetoric. By claiming that real acts of violence and bigotry are staged, right-wing media seek to evade criticism and culpability, conveniently drawing on recently-stoked disdain for federal law enforcement to suggest that anything which might put them or conservatives in a bad light is really the work of the FBI, or other shadowy entities.

During his chaotic tenure as CEO, Elon Musk has reinstated dozens of right-wing users responsible for pushing dangerous misinformation and conspiracy theories. He has repeatedly overhauled Twitter’s verification process, allowing any user to pay for a blue checkmark with Twitter Blue and removing legacy verification. The platform has even claimed that subscribers will soon get “priority ranking in search, mentions, and replies,” making their tweets more visible to more users.

Media Matters previously found that graphic imagery posted by Twitter Blue subscribers was able to proliferate on the platform as a result of these changes. And now, tweets containing conspiracy theories about the incident at the White House that were posted by accounts with blue checkmarks have been viewed millions of times — and they mirror content found on far-right platforms.

Twitter Blue subscribers downplayed the suspect’s apparent Nazi sympathy and pushed conspiracy theories about the incident, claiming it was a “psyop”

Twitter Blue subscribers — some with over a million followers — were quick to weaponize the suspect’s name and race to undermine the legitimacy of the incident. Turning Point USA’s Benny Johnson and far-right commentator Ian Miles Cheong insinuated that the incident was contrived — or a “psyop” — since the attacker was “another non-white white supremacist Neo-Nazi.” (Though an investigation into the suspect and his motives is ongoing, non-white people can push white supremacist or neo-Nazi ideology.)

Other Twitter Blue subscribers baselessly claimed that the “HATE HOAX” is “confirmed” and that “they” or the Democrats “aren’t even trying anymore” because the non-white suspect allegedly carried a Nazi flag with him during the incident.

Benny Johnson and Ian Miles Cheong claiming white supremacist can only be white

To question the legitimacy of the incident, Twitter Blue users also fixated on the fact that law enforcement allegedly removed a Nazi flag from the truck and laid it on the ground. The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles wrote, “I can’t help but notice how meticulously the first responders laid out that strangely crisp, new Nazi flag for the press cameras,” while other users snarkily claimed that it was “totally normal” for the police to seek a “the perfect photo op” and called the incident a “psyop.”

Users claiming police looking for a photo op outside white house

Multiple other users with a blue check — without explanation or evidence — also seemingly argued that the incident “does not seem real at all” and that “we need better psyops.”

On fringe platforms, users also baselessly claimed the incident was a “false flag”

On fringe social media platforms like former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social, or Andrew Torba’s Gab, users made similar claims as Twitter Blue subscribers, calling the incident the “worst false flag ever.”

Fringe U-Haul embed 2

Right-wing personalities and QAnon influencers on fringe platforms took issue with the idea that the suspect was a white supremacist, including Donald Trump Jr., who posted on both Twitter and Truth Social asking, “If the threat of White Supremacy to the republic is so real and so prevalent, why does it seem like they have to outsource all of the hate???”

Don Jr U-Haul Tweet and Truth