Twitter has since flagged the image as "manipulated media" in hundreds of re-shared tweets.
The site introduced the feature in March, as a way of combating "harmfully misleading" information, especially in the lead-up to the 2020 US presidential election.
Original story below 2:38PM 5/27/2020:
He's fooled the internet many times before — and he just did it again.
"Make Whites Great Again" trended high on Twitter on Wednesday — and it was all the work of one professional internet troll.
Just a day after appalling footage of George Floyd's last moments on Earth horrified America, a photo of the cop who knelt on his neck "resurfaced", showing him wearing a cap bearing the disgusting slogan — except it wasn't him.
Tens of thousands of tweets were posted, many of them sharing a juxtaposed shot of Derek Chauvin during the fatal detainment, besides what appeared to be him wearing a racist MAGA style hat.
The man on the right isn’t Derek Chauvin. He isn’t a cop. He is Jonathan Lee Riches, a notorious con man, troll and prankster, not to mention the "world's most litigious man." Riches injects himself, indefensibly, into tragic news events, even if it means going to prison. https://t.co/Y66mXihrYB
But the second picture was in fact Jonathan Lee Riches, a dedicated troll and federal fraud convict famous for filing thousands of frivolous lawsuits, as well as repeated (and often successful) attempts to fool the media into believing he is involved in national tragedies.
The fake-out was spotted by HuffPost journalist Luke O'Brien, who has written extensively about the prankster, and has even interviewed him.
On Wednesday O'Brien retweeted a post by Ice Cube — one of the many people who was fooled into believing the two photos were the same person.
"The man on the right isn’t Derek Chauvin. He isn't a cop. He is Jonathan Lee Riches, a notorious con man, troll and prankster, not to mention the 'world's most litigious man.' Riches injects himself, indefensibly, into tragic news events, even if it means going to prison," O'Brien wrote.
In his profile, he explained how Riches had previously pretended to be Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza's uncle in order to get interviewed by the media; he's also posed as a member of "Jews for Trump", "Muslims for Trump" and "Muslims For Hillary" campaigns at various rallies, in the hopes of grabbing media attention.
Among the many people (and things) he has named in lawsuits are Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Steve Jobs, Nostradamus, Che Guevara, all survivors of the Holocaust, the Lincoln Memorial, the Eiffel Tower, Plymouth Rock, the Holy Grail, the planet Pluto.
George W. Bush he sued for "being a time traveler who plotted with the Duke of Normandy to 'pervert the English Dictionary and Law'"; he sued the makers of Grand Theft Auto for contributing to his imprisonment, and putting him in danger from other inmates who played it.
He also filed an injunction against the Guinness Book of Records to stop them naming him "the world's most litigious person" — even though it never had any intention of doing so.
In his interview with O'Brien, Riches admitted filing the lawsuits and FOI requests just to jam the court system for his own entertainment.
On Wednesday, O'Brien claimed Riches had emailed him to claim the picture began circulating after he found people harassing Chauvin's wife on Facebook and tried to intervene, and they assumed he was a relative.
As with any Riches assertion, fact-checking is necessary. This is a man, after all, who posts pictures like the below and doesn't seem to understand (or care) where the troll ends and the harm begins. It appears he now has far-right connections too. pic.twitter.com/gqRUJPs4Xj
He claimed the "Make Whites Great Again" hat was photoshopped; however he is wearing the same hat in another incendiary social media post, in which he claims to be creating a defense fund for Gregory & Travis McMichael, the father and son charged with murdering Georgia jogger Ahmaud Arbery.
"They are innocent. They were set up. Framed," that post claimed. "We are going to help these 2 Patriots. President Trump is going to pardon them."
O'Brien concluded on Wednesday: "Unfortunately, the slogan on Riches' MAGA cap is now trending on Twitter, the engine that makes wretched things trend. Some of my favorite rappers are amplifying Riches' disinfo. Hellscape."