I am posting this under the Stars and Stripes masthead, but will also link to the WaPo article for those who wish to read the story in full.
Adam Rahuba, a former concert promoter, works part-time as a food-delivery driver and a DJ. At 38, he spent most of the past year staying on a friend’s couch in a small town north of Pittsburgh.
A Washington Post investigation found that Rahuba is also the anonymous figure behind a number of social media hoaxes — the most recent played out in Gettysburg on Independence Day — that have riled far-right extremists in recent years and repeatedly duped partisan media outlets.
Rahuba once claimed that activists were planning to desecrate a Confederate cemetery in Georgia, The Post found. He seeded rumors of an organized effort to report Trump supporters for supposed child abuse. And he promoted a purported grass-roots campaign to confiscate Americans’ guns.
These false claims circulated widely on social media and on internet message boards. They were often amplified by right-wing commentators and covered as real news by media outlets such as Breitbart News and The Gateway Pundit.
The hoaxes, outlandish in their details, have spurred fringe groups of conspiracy-minded Americans to action by playing on partisan fears. They have led to highly combustible situations — attracting heavily armed militia members and far-right activists eager to protect values they think are under siege — as well as large mobilizations of police.
Since the election of President Donald Trump, Rahuba’s hoaxes have focused on leveraging fears of antifa, loosely affiliated activists who oppose fascism and have sometimes embraced property damage and violent protest. His July 4 hoax, a purported burning of the American flag, was billed as an antifa event. Hundreds of counterprotesters, including skinheads, flocked to Gettysburg National Military Park to confront the nonexistent flag burners.
Rahuba’s hoaxes grew increasingly farcical in the following years, some succeeding even though the names of the accounts and pages purporting to promote them left little doubt as to their true purpose. One Facebook page was called “Trolling Trumpsters.”
Rahuba told The Post that he was responding to the far-right’s embrace of baseless conspiracy theories such as QAnon, which holds that Trump is secretly combating a ring of powerful sex predators in politics and elite circles.
“I see the QAnon lunatics getting riled up about things very easily, and … low-hanging fruit,” he said.
Congratulations, ‘independent’ thinkers. Y’all been played.