Doctored image of Trump rally crowd is from satire account, not Trump | Fact check

The claim: Trump shared doctored photo of rally showing same attendees in multiple places

A May 19 Threads post (direct link, archive link) shows an image of a rally for former President Donald Trump in which the same attendees appear in multiple places circled in red, indicating the image is digitally edited.

“Nobody fakes a crowd like Donald Trump,” the post’s caption reads.

The post was reposted more than 400 times in two days. A similar version accumulated thousands of additional shares on X, formerly Twitter.

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Our rating: False

The altered image was first shared as satire in 2022 by an account with no affiliation to Trump. There is no record of the former president sharing it.

Altered image shared by satirical account, not Trump

Trump has frequently boasted about – and his opponents have regularly contested – the size of the crowds attending his rallies, his public appearances and, most famously, his 2017 presidential inauguration.

But the Threads post misleads about the origin of the doctored image included in it. There is no record of Trump sharing it on his website or social media accounts. There are likewise no credible news reports about the former president sharing the image.

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The doctored image was first shared June 27, 2022, by Taunt The Elephant, a Facebook account that describes itself as using “sarcasm, irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire.” The image's caption states it is an “official Trump rally photo where they had the largest crowd* ever, period” – an apparent reference to former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's description of Trump's inauguration crowd. A footnote in the post states the record refers to the number of quadruplets.

The original, unaltered crowd image was posted to X on June 26, 2021, by Dan Scavino, the former director of social media in the Trump White House. It shows a Trump rally that day – his first after leaving office – in Wellington, Ohio.

The Trump supporters shown in four spots in the doctored image are nowhere to be found in the original. They appeared in an image taken at an Oct. 31, 2020, rally in Reading, Pennsylvania, and published by The New Republic that November.

The image shared on Threads is an example of what could be called "stolen satire," where content originally presented as satire is captured and reposted in a way that makes it appear to be legitimate news. As a result, readers of the second-generation post are misled, which is what happened here.

Trump’s rallies have been the subject of misinformation on social media. USA TODAY has debunked claims that Trump canceled a rally in North Carolina and refused to give refunds, that an image shows trash his supporters left in May 2024 and that a judge allowed Trump to miss his criminal trial to attend one.

USA TODAY reached out to the Threads user but did not immediately receive a response.

Snopes previously debunked a version of the claim.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Doctored image of Trump rally crowd originated as satire | Fact check