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13.31 19 Oct 2017


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A bizarre conspiracy theory that claimed a body double is standing in for Melania Trump in public has gained traction on Twitter - albeit with many making fun of the rather outrageous suggestion.

The meme originated with a recent video, in which President Trump spoke to reporters about the situation in Puerto Rico while the First Lady stood silently beside him.

Although the news clip was published last week and the news has long since moved on to the US president's latest antics, the video has gained fresh traction as the unusual conspiracy theory took on a life of its own.

A Facebook post proposing the theory was shared tens of thousands of times over the weekend, while on Tuesday a Twitter user called Joe Vargas claimed: "This is not Melania. To think they would go this far & try & make us think its her on TV is mind blowing. Makes me wonder what else is a lie."

He added: "I initially didn't notice, but thought it was strange when he said 'my wife Melania, she's right here' to try & convince media it was her."

While it's unclear quite how serious the original suggestions were, the theory nonetheless gained plenty of traction - Vargas' video was retweeted more than 50,000 times, and liked over 80,000 times.

A few users started analysing the footage for any potential differences between the alleged 'fake Melania' and the real US First Lady. Most, however, felt the story was far worthier of humour than any serious analysis:

As Philip Bump of the Washington Post argues: "How sincere Vargas is, we don’t know; that his Twitter username is currently a URL to a business suggests that he’s perhaps not entirely sincere.

"But part of it, too, is the tendency Americans have these days to assume the worst, most nefarious things about their political opponents, no matter how far afield from what seems logical [...] These days, the more outrageous the idea, it seems, the more likely it is to meet with adherents."

The Trump presidency may have thrown up all manner of unusual and bizarre headlines so far - but for now it's safe to assume that the alleged Melania Trump lookalike is, shockingly, actually Melania Trump.


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