Donald Trump retweeted the results of an unscientific Twitter poll on Thursday that suggested 61 percent of voters believe Trump is a better president than Barack Obama.
The Twitter account, now called @ProgressPolls, had an entirely different identity just two months ago. The account called was @Truth_Bombers until July 26th, when its new owners deleted almost 4,000 old tweets, some of which promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory that falsely claimed Hillary Clinton’s campaign ran a secret child sex ring, and also tweeted claims that Obama is Muslim.
On August 4, @ProgressPolls, which has 125,000 followers, tweeted the poll: "Who is a better President of the United States? #ObamaDay." It went viral, securing almost 30,000 votes, and just short of 13,000 retweets. One of those retweets was @realDonaldTrump.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, the proprietors of @ProgressPolls admitted that the account had recently changed management, but denied the account had been purchased. According to Twitter, the @Truth_Bombers account was originally created in March 2016.
"Our account has gone through several different management persons, so the account has changed as such," said one account manager The Daily Beast spoke to, adding that the account was originally created "by one of the past managers, and it changed due to matters I can't comment on."
The individual said they are one of four people who now control @ProgressPolls, which changed management on July 26, and immediately scrubbed more than 3,800 tweets. Just 12 tweets remained on the account on Thursday afternoon.
The person running @ProgressPolls claimed the account is bipartisan. That's despite most of the polls leaning decidedly to the right, asking questions like, "Do you think Seth Rich was murdered by the DNC / Clintons?" and "Do you think it was insensitive of CNN's @Acosta to insinuate that only British and Australian people speak English to Stephen Miller?"
While the account's new owners deleted thousands of old tweets, it did not delete the previous owner's "likes." Some of the account's "liked" tweets before July 26 include posts by InfoWars correspondent Paul Joseph Watson, Vice cofounder Gavin McGinnes who now appears on Rebel Media, a far-right media organization headquartered in Canada, and an account for Proud Boys, McGinnes' far-right offshoot.
Since July 26th, the account has liked tweets by Roger Stone and right-wing social media star Cassandra Fairbanks. And many of the accounts it follows lean to the right, something that flies in the face of its name, "Progress Polls."
"We have a team of mixed political beliefs, so we follow a little bit of everyone to get a diverse feed," said the individual who spoke to The Daily Beast. They said the group started the account "to give people a chance to have their voices heard," a task made a lot easier thanks to the tens of thousands of followers it picked up during its past life as @Truth_Bombers.
@Truth_Bombers was mostly focused on attacking CNN, downplaying Russia’s role in interfering in the 2016 election (which it referred to as “propaganda”), and accusing political opponents of being pro-pedophilia.
On July 6th, @Truth_Bombers tweeted “Do you remember when @WikiLeaks exposed odd Podesta emails? Some pointed to alleged child sexual abuse and trafficking. #ThrowbackThursday.” Its next tweet implied similar conspiracies about a CNN host.
The feed claimed to “bring exposure and transparency about the media and the government to the people through an unfiltered perspective.”
@Truth_Bombers used to identify itself as “@NewsNuke’s Truth Bombers,” which linked to NewsNuke.com. @Truth_Bombers deleted their association with NewsNuke in June, before the account switched to @ProgressPolls.
NewsNuke.com has only posted one story this month, which claims the “U.S. government manufactured the Russian hacking hysteria to cover for their assassination of Seth Rich.”
The anonymous users behind @ProgressPolls claimed to The Daily Beast that @NewsNuke was run by the "old management team."