On September 12 2020, a screenshot of a purported Trump campaign text message began circulating — warning recipients that antifa might “attack” their homes and urging them to become a “Diamond Club Member”:
Tonight in Trump campaign texts pic.twitter.com/D1WuOtWaG8
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) September 12, 2020
The Text Message
A screenshot of a text message read:
(1) ANTIFA ALERTTrump Campaign ‘Antifa Alert’ Diamond Club Text MessageTrump Campaign ‘Antifa Alert’ D...
They’ll attack your homes if Joe’s elected. Pres Trump needs you to become a Diamond Club Member. Your name is MISSING. Donate: bit.ly/3ipuQPr
A URL included in the text involved a link shortener; our initial attempts to visit it led to a warning screen:
The warning began:
STOP – there might be a problem with the requested link
The link you requested has been identified by bitly as being potentially problematic. This could be because a bitly user has reported a problem, a blocklist service reported a problem, because the link has been shortened more than once, or because we have detected potentially malicious content. This may be a problem because:
- Some URL-shorteners re-use their links, so bitly can’t guarantee the validity of this link.
- Some URL-shorteners allow their links to be edited, so bitly can’t tell where this link will lead you.
- Spam and malware is very often propagated by exploiting these loopholes, neither of which bitly allows for.
The link you requested may contain inappropriate content, or even spam or malicious code that could be downloaded to your computer without your consent, or may be a forgery or imitation of another website, designed to trick users into sharing personal or financial information.
Bit.ly also provided a link to the original, not shortened URL: https://secure.winred.com/djt/diamond-card. It led to the following splash page, which contained a money beg for a donation of at least $45:
Text in the box on the left read:
Official Website of Donald J. Trump for President
Become an Official 2020 Trump Diamond Card Member!
Diamond Card carrying members are critical to our movement’s success, and President Trump really needs YOU on the team.
We only have a limited amount of Diamond Card memberships available, so don’t wait.
Please contribute at least $45 IMMEDIATELY to activate your Official 2020 Trump Diamond Card Membership and we’ll send you your PERSONALIZED card!
Some very clear messaging from the Trump campaign:
Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2020 4:42 PM
Subject: New text message from 88022
(1) ANTIFA ALERT
They'll attack your homes if Joe's elected. Pres Trump needs you to become a Diamond Club Member. Your name is MISSING.
— Jon Cooksey (@joncooksey666) September 13, 2020
Trump sent this text out last night: "(1) ANTIFA ALLERT They'll attack your homes if Joe's elected. Pres. Trump needs you to become a Diamond Club Member. Your name is MISSING. Donate" yeah, he's trying to prevent panic all right. We've been getting
— Just can't stay silent (@sortaskeptical) September 13, 2020
Another campaign text about ANTIFA pic.twitter.com/ckEm9vqMv4
— Christopher Mathias (@letsgomathias) September 12, 2020
Screenshots of a Trump 2020 campaign text spread on social media, labeled “ANTIFA ALERT.” It falsely warned recipients that antifa — that is to say, anti-fascist protesters — would “attack your homes” if Joe Biden was elected president, adding that “Trump needs you to become a Diamond Club Member.” Myriad iterations of the message were screencapped or transcribed and shared to Twitter by recipients in September 2020; a separate text warned “ANTIFA THUGS WILL RUIN SUBURBS.” The text is real; the situation about which the text is fearmongering is nothing more than a wild flight of fancy.