It was the sort of Twitter post for which a charged post-election moment, full of conspiracy theories and anxieties, was perfectly primed. Eric Tucker, founder of an Austin company called PocketMath, claimed that protesters who had gathered in Austin Wednesday night were “not as organic as they seem”; he presented photos of what he claimed were the buses that had transported them. The buses in the photo appeared to be in East Austin near downtown.
By Friday morning, the tweet had been retweeted more than 15,000 times, picked up by Alex Jones’ InfoWars, Rush Limbaugh and newscasts.
The problem: The speculation wasn’t true.
The buses had actually been hired by a company called Tableau to move more than 13,000 conference attendees around the city, the American-Statesman has confirmed.
“I can confirm that those were our buses,” said Keyana Corliss, a spokeswoman for Tableau Software. “They were transporting conference attendees to our ‘Data Night Out’ party. They were caught in traffic for about 15-20 minutes in the protest, but that’s it.”
Statesman reporters were also at the start of the rally on Wednesday at UT campus before it moved downtown.
Eric Tucker did not immediately return a comment left for him at PocketMath. But Friday morning, following a query posted on Twitter by a Statesman reporter, he seemed to back off the incendiary claim.
That tweet was shared eight times by midday.