A two-year-old viral photo with a disturbing sign about First Lady Melania Trump re-emerged on Facebook on Oct. 8, 2018, garnering more than 11,000 reactions and 8,000 shares. The photo caption said the sign-holder was part of the one-year-old #MeToo movement.
That’s not true.
The person holding the sign was planted to discredit protesters of President Donald Trump following the 2016 election, according to numerous news reports. Jack Posobiec, who is credited with planting the sign, also heavily promoted the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory and helped organize the DeploraBall, an informal inauguration party marked by clashes between Trump’s supporters and protesters.
The photo was posted more recently by Joshua Feuerstein, a former pastor who uses social media to promote his vision of evangelical Christianity. Feuerstein notably made headlines in 2015 for his viral video attacking Starbucks over its holiday cups.
The reposted 2016 photo shows someone in a crowd of people holding a sign that says "Rape Melania."
"This is the tolerant left #MeToo movement ... suggesting a sexual assault against the First Lady!!! Wow!!" the accompanying post read.
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That photo has made waves on the internet before, originally posted a week after the 2016 election on Twitter by Alan Beck, a Trump supporter whose account has since been suspended.
"DC Trump Protestor (sic) ‘Rape Melania,’" the original tweet said.
People debated the legitimacy of the image and whether it was Photoshopped, but photos of the sign exist from different angles, taken by different people, confirming it was there.
Response and reactions from Twitter users caused "#RapeMelania" to trend on Twitter, which prompted criticism against the social media platform for allowing such a hashtag to trend.
That was all nearly a year before #MeToo took off in October 2017, reigniting a decade-old movement launched by activist Tarana Burk.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire.