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Trump Campaign Uses Stock Video of 'Supporters' in Latest Facebook Ads

A stock video actor appearing as “Thomas in Washington” in a Facebook ad for President Donald Trump’s re-election in 2020
Gif: Facebook/iStock

If you watch this YouTube video of a “lifelong Democrat” who now supports President Donald Trump, you might get the impression that “AJ from Texas” wants to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

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But that guy’s not named AJ and he’s probably not even from Texas. He’s a stock video model being used by the Trump campaign.

Did you catch the fine print at the bottom there? It flashes for about two seconds: “Actual testimonial, actor portrayal.” And while political campaigns have long used stock video for advertising, these online ads are particularly misleading because they feature specific testimonials from supposedly real people.

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The Trump campaign’s use of actors comes from a new report by the Associated Press which examines the use of cheap video footage for ads that are currently flooding the internet. The next U.S. election is over a year away, but it sure doesn’t feel like it online.

And it’s not just “AJ from Texas” who’s getting spread far and wide. The Trump campaign is creating Facebook ads with “Thomas from Washington” and “Tracey from Florida,” all using stock models.

“President Trump is doing a great job,” the voiceover says as we see a woman walking along the beach. “I could not have asked for a better President of the United States of America.”

As the AP notes, “Tracey” can be seen selling all kinds of different products online because she’s a stock video model. And you can license the right to use her walk on the beach from iStock, owned by Getty Images, for just $170.

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And what about Thomas from Washington? He can be found at the iStock video gallery under the title, “Bearded and tattooed hipster coffee shop owner posing.” The Trump campaign, which has largely been shunned by Millennials who oppose things like migrant concentration camps where young children are dying, is clearly trying to target that demographic specifically.

There’s one curious detail about the ads that isn’t mentioned in the Associated Press report but was raised by Slate recently. Even the “small businesses” that are featured in the ads are stock videos.

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And one of the businesses is actually stock video of a storefront in Tokyo, Japan. The Trump campaign has even blurred out the Japanese words on a sign in the upper left corner:

Illustration for article titled Trump Campaign Uses Stock Video of Supporters in Latest Facebook Ads
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Make... Japan Great Again?

This obviously isn’t the first time that the Trump campaign has manipulated social media content to make the president’s policies look better. Back in January, we wrote about how President Trump was slimming down his photos on Instagram to make him look thinner and with longer fingers.

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The next U.S. presidential election is officially 489 days away, but it’s safe to say that it’s going to be a very long year. But we can already guess what the response to these fake videos will be. We see it in every issue that confronts the Trump regime. First, they call it fake news and say it didn’t happen. But eventually, Trump supporters admit it happened, and so what? We’re at that point already with the concentration camps: It’s happening but so what, the Obama administration was just as bad. And while that’s not true (the Obama administration never separated families as a matter of policy and six children have died in the past year, whereas no child died in U.S. custody in the ten years before that) it shows the power of having no shame.

So what, indeed.

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Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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DISCUSSION

Go'way. Toobin'.

The campaign tried to use real supporters but didn’t have the budget to remove all of the third reich themed sleeve tattoos.