Twitter bans Trump-supporting hoaxster after USA TODAY exposé

Twitter announced that it is permanently suspending Jacob Wohl, a 21-year-old Internet hoaxer and supporter of President Donald Trump, following the publication of a USA TODAY article in which he boasted of using the social media platform to spread lies and disinformation.

In the article published Tuesday morning, Wohl disclosed what he claimed were his plans to create “enormous left-wing properties,” including Facebook and Twitter accounts, before the 2020 presidential election in order “to steer the left-wing votes in the primaries to what we feel are weaker candidates compared with Trump.”

Throughout the day, Twitter users had messaged the platform's CEO, Jack Dorsey, demanding that the company take action against Wohl.

In announcing the suspension Tuesday afternoon, Twitter said in a statement: “The account was suspended for multiple violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically creating and operating fake accounts.”

According to Twitter, after Wohl bragged of his intentions to violate its rules against the creation of fake or misleading accounts, the company scrutinized his activity on the platform and found he already created multiple fake accounts.

Wohl said when reached by USA TODAY that he had never created a false or misleading account. "I've had accounts for my businesses and my future think tank, but that's about it," Wohl said, confirming that all of those accounts had been "nuked" Tuesday afternoon. "I've not created fake accounts or bot armies or anything like that."

When asked the name of the "future think tank," Wohl declined to provide it, saying he planned to use it in a "clandestine manner."

Among accounts that were suspended was that of Surefire Intelligence, Wohl's operation that played a central role in his scheme to disgrace Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the days before the midterm elections.

Wohl said that he was not bothered by the suspension, saying that he was trending on Twitter even as his accounts had been suspended. "I'm going to continue to own their platform and make them useful to me so it doesn't really matter to me, to be honest," Wohl said.

A former teenage hedge fund trader who left the financial industry following allegations of fraud, Wohl is known for deceptive pro-Trump schemes and campaigns that go viral, not always in the way he likely intended.

Wohl told USA TODAY that in his convoluted attempt to discredit Trump nemesis Mueller with allegations of sexual misconduct, he created a false identify and used it to email reporters at several news outlets.

A woman Wohl identified to reporters as an alleged victim of Mueller told USA Today that Wohl had deceived her with a false identity, made up the allegations of her sexual assault, and attempted to coerce her to appear at a press conference. "He completely lied to me," Carolyne Cass said.

Wohl has regularly used Twitter to spread baseless claims, such as that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is secretly in a dead or vegetative state or that Somali-American Rep. Ilhan Omar married her brother. He took credit for starting a widely-disseminated false claim last month that Sen. Kamala Harris was ineligible for election because she had immigrant parents and spent part of her childhood in Canada.

In discussing his role in spreading that disinformation, Wohl said that the accuracy of a claim is not important. All that matters is how far it reaches, and how many people believe it. “The believability stuck at about 15 to 18 percent by my measurement,” Wohl said of the Harris claim. “So it's not a bad campaign.”

Wohl first gained the attention -- and ridicule -- of Twitter users through posts dating to last year in which he claimed to overhear liberals confessing of their secret affinity for right-wing positions at "hipster coffee shops" in his native Southern California.

In the USA TODAY article, Wohl acknowledged that he fabricates those accounts.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Twitter bans Trump-supporting hoaxster after USA TODAY exposé