As if Donald Trump doesn't give the Twitterverse
enough material on his own. (Did you hear he has 20 Muslim
friends?) Today Trump's recently deceased cousin Thomas P Trump
was trending over an obituary in which he begs Americans not to let
'that walking mucus bag become President...'
Great turn of phrase. Trouble is, the cousin doesn't
actually exist, dead or otherwise.
Maybe fake dead relatives will emerge as the next trend in
political spin. If even their (fake) (dead) family won't
endorse them, who will, right? It's a bit of a low blow, but
legally speaking Trump can't do too much about it. There's
that pesky First Amendment to contest with in the US.
Viewed under our own laws, the picture is a bit different.
It's pretty defamatory to suggest that his own family hates
him. Ordinarily calling Trump a mucus bag and asking people not to
vote for him might qualify as an opinion, which can be defensible.
But fake dead people can't have opinions, so Trump wins.
The real loser is the poor bloke whose picture got pinched and
used as the fake dead cousin's face. The interweb tells us that
the image was originally posted on Flickr in 2006 when a
photographer met an elderly guy on some stairs and took a snap.
The photographer has had their copyright infringed. And the guy
in the picture might not be too happy about being aligned with the
Trump family. Or maybe he loves Donald Trump and doesn't want
anyone to think he's a dirty Democrat. Either way, if people
recognise him and think he's a goose as a result, he might have
a case (although, if he's actually dead too, he can't sue
anyone). You can totally defame someone just by using their
photograph, and even without naming them. It's all about
It's possible we just wanted to boast that we didn't get
caught out retweeting this hoax like so many others did, but
it's also true that in every silly internet story there's a
little legal gem eager to be told.
PS We'd show you the fake obit, but that'd be defamatory
and copyrightinfringatory, which would be an irony too far.
We do not disclaim anything about this article. We're
quite proud of it really.
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