Fact check: Fake Kent State ‘gun girl’ quote likely an altered image of a real tweet

The claim: Conservative figure Kaitlin Bennett tweeted about incest

Social media users are sharing a fake quote purporting to show that conservative media personality Kaitlin Bennett tweeted about incest. The fake quote is spreading as an altered image of a real tweet.

“At least I can procreate with my dad,” reads the altered image.

Bennett has been a controversial figure since she went viral for carrying a semi-automatic around the Kent State University campus following her 2018 graduation. She has since garnered the nickname “gun girl” and become a conservative media personality. 

Several posters told USA TODAY they shared the image because they believed the tweet was authentic.

“I’m lead to believe it was a real tweet,” user Rene Turbios wrote to USA TODAY in a Facebook message. 

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USA TODAY could not trace who first posted the fake quote. 

Kent State University graduate, Kaitlin Bennett, 22, caused a stir on social media with her photo, in which she is seen walking on campus, while carrying an AR-10 long rifle on her back.

Bennett shared a similar tweet after a Twitter feud with rapper Lil Nas X

The fake quote is likely an altered image of a tweet Bennett shared on March 29. “At least I can procreate,” read the real tweet.

This came a day after Bennett engaged in a Twitter feud with recording artist Lil Nas X over his controversial “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” music video. The confrontation included several insults between Nas X, who is gay, and Bennett about each of their relationships with their fathers. 

An advanced search of Bennett’s Twitter profile shows no trace of the purported tweet. There is no record of the claimed tweet in archived webpages of Bennett’s Twitter profile.

Bennett’s media outlet, Liberty Hangout, did not reply to a request for comment. 

Kaitlin Bennett, who gained notoriety for posing on the Kent State University campus with a rifle for her graduation photos, joins over a hundred people gathered at the Capitol courtyard for the Big Pro Gun Rally on Saturday, July 28, 2018. (Photo: Joe Rondone/Democrat)

Image forensics suggests the image was altered

Close inspection of the image containing the fake quote suggests it was altered from a screenshot of Bennett’s March 29 tweet. The words “with my dad” appear in a slightly different color and size than “At least I can procreate.” 

USA TODAY used InVID’s image forensic analysis tool to inspect the image for potential tampering. The JPEG Ghosts algorithm highlighted the “with my dad” phrase in yellow, indicating that it was likely taken from another image. 

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“The JPEG Ghosts algorithm is based on recompressing the image in multiple different qualities and subtracting each of them from the original,” InVID says in explaining how the algorithm detects tampering. “The resulting difference images are post-processed to highlight regions that stand out and are likely to originate from a different JPEG image.”

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Our rating: False

We rate a fake quote purporting to show that conservative media personality Kaitlin Bennett tweeted about incest as FALSE, based on our research. There is no record of the quote on Bennett’s Twitter profile, where the altered image claims the statement was made. Image forensics suggests the fake quote is the result of alteration, likely involving an authentic tweet Bennett did post on March 29. 

Our fact-check sources:

  • USA TODAY, May 16, 2018, “Kent State graduate celebrates by strolling campus with her AR-10”
  • USA TODAY, Feb. 18, 2020, “Kent State ‘gun girl’ who walked campus with AR confronted by protesters at Ohio University”
  • Kaitlin Bennett, March 29, tweet
  • Lil Nas X, March 28, tweet
  • USA TODAY, March 30, “Lil Nas X’s Satan imagery angers parents. But advocates say critics are missing the point.”
  • Twitter advanced search, accessed April 1, “At least I can procreate with my dad”
  • Wayback Machine, April 1, Kaitlin Bennett Twitter profile
  • InVID, accessed March 31, “InVID Verification Plugin”

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook. 

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