ADVERTISEMENT
Related topics

Tweet falsely attributed to Virginia Tech swimmer

March 22, 2022 GMT
University of Pennsylvania transgender athlete Lia Thomas competes in the 500-yard freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. A Twitter account that represented itself as belonging to a competitor of Thomas tweeted a message critical of the athlete, but Twitter and representatives for the competitor confirmed the account that posted the message was fake. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
University of Pennsylvania transgender athlete Lia Thomas competes in the 500-yard freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. A Twitter account that represented itself as belonging to a competitor of Thomas tweeted a message critical of the athlete, but Twitter and representatives for the competitor confirmed the account that posted the message was fake. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
University of Pennsylvania transgender athlete Lia Thomas competes in the 500-yard freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. A Twitter account that represented itself as belonging to a competitor of Thomas tweeted a message critical of the athlete, but Twitter and representatives for the competitor confirmed the account that posted the message was fake. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
University of Pennsylvania transgender athlete Lia Thomas competes in the 500-yard freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. A Twitter account that represented itself as belonging to a competitor of Thomas tweeted a message critical of the athlete, but Twitter and representatives for the competitor confirmed the account that posted the message was fake. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
University of Pennsylvania transgender athlete Lia Thomas competes in the 500-yard freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. A Twitter account that represented itself as belonging to a competitor of Thomas tweeted a message critical of the athlete, but Twitter and representatives for the competitor confirmed the account that posted the message was fake. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

CLAIM: Reka Gyorgy, a Virginia Tech University swimmer, posted from her personal Twitter account: “My finals spot was stolen by Lia Thomas, who is a biological male. Until we all refuse to compete nothing will change. Thanks for all the support retweets and follows I wont stop fighting.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The tweet did not come from Gyorgy’s account. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to The Associated Press that the user responsible for the tweet was suspended for violating the platform’s policy on the “creation of fake accounts.” Multiple representatives from Virginia Tech’s athletics department also said the account was not authentic.

THE FACTS: An account that represented itself as belonging to Gyorgy tweeted the critical message Sunday, gaining more than 28,000 retweets and 101,000 likes and amassing thousands of followers before being suspended.

The message came after Thomas, a University of Pennsylvania senior, made history as the first transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming championship when she came in first Thursday in the women’s 500-yard freestyle.

Gyorgy criticized the NCAA rules that allowed Thomas to compete in the women’s division on other platforms. She called for them to be changed in a letter posted to her public Facebook account on Sunday afternoon.

But the tweet posted hours later under a profile using Gyorgy’s name and photo did not come from an account belonging to Gyorgy, according to Twitter.

“The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts,” a Twitter spokesperson wrote in an email to the AP.

Pete Moris, Virginia Tech’s associate athletics director for strategic communications, and Sergio Lopez Miro, women’s swimming and diving head coach, also confirmed that the tweet did not come from Gyorgy.

“The screenshot is not her account,” Moris wrote in an email to the AP, referencing an image of the since-removed tweet.

“The account was fake,” Lopez Miro added.

Twitter suspended the account less than a day after it posted the tweet about Thomas.

The earliest available record of the now-suspended page was captured on March 20 by the internet archive the WayBack Machine. At that time, the account had posted several retweets supporting Republican politicians dating back to December 2021.

The account had not posted any content about swimming or Gyorgy until March 17, when the NCAA women’s swimming championships were underway and already making headlines, according to archived screenshots.

There is other evidence that the account was not authentic. The same account previously used the handle “@Amanda191923” before changing it to “RekaGyorgy_.” Searches on Twitter for the Amanda username reveal older tweets now linked to the fake Gyorgy account.

Before it was deleted, several conservative news outlets and social media users with large followings had retweeted or shared screenshots of the tweet about Thomas, representing it as a genuine post from Gyorgy.

One such outlet, The Blaze, removed its story about the post by Monday, adding an editor’s note stating: “We have been unable to verify the genuineness of the Twitter account in question or that it was in any way affiliated with Reka Gyorgy. We regret the error and have elected to pull the story.”

Thomas has followed NCAA and Ivy League rules since she began her transition in 2019 by starting hormone replacement therapy, the AP has reported. She also swam for Penn while transitioning.

“I try to ignore it as much as I can,” Thomas said Thursday of the criticism. “I try to focus on my swimming … and just try to block out everything else.”

Gyorgy did not respond to a request for comment via Facebook Messenger.

___

This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.