First they had voter suppression at their go-to to explain any election defeat, now they have malicious foreigners fooling credulous Americans with internet memes as an excuse. As a mark of how little confidence the Democrats have in their current presidential hopefuls, POLITICO is now creating the excuse for them.
A wide-ranging disinformation campaign aimed at Democratic 2020 candidates is already underway on social media, with signs that foreign state actors are driving at least some of the activity.
The main targets appear to be Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), four of the most prominent announced or prospective candidates for president.
The cyber propaganda — which frequently picks at the rawest, most sensitive issues in public discourse — is being pushed across a variety of platforms and with a more insidious approach than in the 2016 presidential election, when online attacks designed to polarize and mislead voters first surfaced on a massive scale.
Recent posts that have received widespread dissemination include racially inflammatory memes and messaging involving Harris, O’Rourke and Warren. In Warren’s case, a false narrative surfaced alleging that a blackface doll appeared on a kitchen cabinet in the background of the senator’s New Year’s Eve Instagram livestream.
What is the proof of this nefarious plot, you ask?
Since the beginning of the year, those accounts began specifically directing their output at Harris, O’Rourke, Sanders and Warren, and were amplified by an even wider grouping of accounts. Over a recent 30-day period, between 2 percent and 15 percent of all Twitter mentions of the four candidates emanated in some way from within that cluster of accounts, according to the Guardians.ai findings. In that time frame, all four candidates collectively had 6.8 million mentions on Twitter.
Now we’re back into the same ridiculous claims made about 2016 when literally $100,000 in Facebook ads are blamed for allowing President Trump to win a handful of votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. We don’t know that “in some way” even means. We don’t know if anyone who can vote actually saw them. This is simply hokum.
But wait, there’s more:
A recent analysis from the social media intelligence firm Storyful detected spikes in misinformation activity over social media platforms and online comment boards in the days after each of the 2020 candidates launched their presidential bids, beginning with Warren’s announcement on Dec. 31.
Fringe news websites and social media platforms, Storyful found, played a significant role in spreading anti-Warren sentiment in the days after she announced her candidacy on Dece. 31. Using a variety of keyword searches for mentions of Warren, the firm reported evidence of “spam or bot-like” activity on Facebook and Twitter from some of the top posters.
Kelly Jones, a researcher with Storyful who tracked suspicious activity in the three days after the campaign announcements of Harris, Warren, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), said she’s seen a concerted push over separate online message boards to build false or derogatory narratives.
Among the fringe platforms Storyful identified were 4Chan and 8Chan, where messages appeared calling on commenters to quietly wreak havoc against Warren on social media or in the comments section under news stories.
Wait. Wait. 4Chan and 8Chan are up to no good? Tell me it ain’t so.
This is my favorite:
She was also among the most targeted. One widely seen tweet employed racist and sexist stereotypes in an attempt to sensationalize Harris’ relationship with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.
Dude, you don’t have to be a Russian or Iranian bot to come up with something any high school boy can create.
I predicted a couple of years ago that the bullsh** investigation launched by Democrat operatives and their fellow travelers against President Trump would become a regular affair. We know that the Democrats created fake Russian-seeming accounts in the senate race in Alabama to make it look like Roy Moore had Russian support. There is no reason to believe that this activity is either effective or is calculated to do anything more than create a bogus narrative that the favorite leftists are being targeted by foreign interests.
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