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Online copycats take advantage of Pfc.'s flag salute outrage

Feb. 27, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey is under investigation for a photo that shows her flagrantly avoiding issuing a salute to the American flag.
Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey is under investigation for a photo that shows her flagrantly avoiding issuing a salute to the American flag. (Instagram photo)
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Don’t believe everything you’re seeing online about Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey, the soldier who hid in her car to avoid saluting the flag and then bragged about it on social media.

It appears copycats are using the Fort Carson, Colo.-based soldier’s identity and image to spread anti-American sentiment and flag-burning photos across the Internet.

Sheffey came under fire earlier this week for a post on her Instagram account “sheffeynation,” which has since been deleted.

In the photo, Sheffey can be seen wearing her uniform slouching in her car. The caption stated:

“This is me laying back in my car hiding so I don’t have to salute the 1700 flag, KEEP ALL YOUR ‘THATS SO DISRESPECTFUL/HOWRUDE/ETC.’ COMMENTS TO YOURSELF cuz, right now, IDGAFFFF.”

After receiving a number of complaints about the photo, Army Times published a story Tuesday that has garnered thousands of comments, mostly accusing Sheffey of dishonoring her service by disregarding the flag.

Less than 24 hours after the story posted, new Instagram accounts were created bearing Sheffey’s image. These posts included even more controversial photos — one of a burning flag. The flag burning was posted on an Instagram account “teriqkasheffey,” which misspells the soldier’s first name. Another account used her photo, but misspelled her name differently: “teriqasheffy.” That post included a number of expletives including “f--- the flag” and “f--- the army.”

Many people assumed these were more posts from the PFC. But a Fort Carson official said it is likely these are posers who are looking to incite more outrage online.

It is “strongly believed that there are copycats posing as her, using some of her info to post more nonsense,” the official said.

The images do contradict Sheffey’s tone after her initial photo started gaining widespread criticism.

Sheffey posted a video on Instagram on Tuesday and expressed regret, saying, “I seriously just want to say thank you to everybody who stood up to me today, like seriously. That s--- to me was not that serious. I am not a disrespectful soldier and I really appreciate you all.”

Sheffey is a member of the 59th Quartermaster Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade.

An investigation into the alleged photos is still underway. Attempts to reach Sheffey for comment via email and phone have not been successful.

This marks the third time in less than two weeks in which a photo of service members has sparked controversy on social media. Several National Guard members have been suspended from funeral honors detail in light of a photo showing them comically posing around a flag-draped casket during training. An investigation is ongoing.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Cherish Byers is also the subject of an investigation, after a three-year-old photo of her tongue-kissing a Prisoner of War-Missing in Action symbol went viral.

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