What in the hell is going on here?
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice charged Douglass Mackey, 31, of West Palm Beach, Florida, with election interference for posting a meme in 2016 urging Hillary voters to “avoid the line” and vote by text.
The Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Nicholas L. McQuaid said, “According to the allegations in the complaint, the defendant exploited a social media platform to infringe one the of most basic and sacred rights guaranteed by the Constitution: the right to vote. This complaint underscores the department’s commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who would undermine citizens’ voting rights.”
Mackey, who used the name “Ricky Vaughn” — Charlie Sheen’s character in the film Major League — on social media, had multiple social media accounts and was ranked in the top 110 influencers in the 2016 election according to the MIT Media Lab.
A New York Post report notes that Mackey was labeled “alt-right” in 2018 by the Huffington Post. The article in HuffPo includes screenshots of antisemitic memes and a tweet pushing the Pizzagate conspiracy.
After it was revealed in 2018 that Mackey was the man behind Vaughn, the Huffington Post called him an “‘alt-right’ white nationalist” who used his alter ego to peddle racist and anti-Semitic views.
Mackey is expected to appear Wednesday afternoon before US Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart at the West Palm Beach federal courthouse.
Source: New York Post
In or about 2016, MACKEY, working with other individuals described in greater detail below, made coordinated use of social media to spread disinformation relevant to the impending 2016 Presidential Election (“the Election”). The disinformation spread by these individuals often took the form of “memes.” MACKEY and his co-conspirators variously discussed and debated aspects of these memes including their content, their formatting and the timing of their release, and expressed a desire that the memes would influence the behaviors of those who saw them.”
The DOJ website explains:
For example, on Nov. 1, 2016, Mackey allegedly tweeted an image that featured an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for [the Candidate]” sign. The image included the following text: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home. Text ‘[Candidate’s first name]’ to 59925[.] Vote for [the Candidate] and be a part of history.” The fine print at the bottom of the image stated: “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by [Candidate] for President 2016.”
The tweet included the typed hashtags “#Go [Candidate]” and another slogan frequently used by the Candidate. On or about and before Election Day 2016, at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted “[Candidate’s first name]” or some derivative to the 59925 text number, which was used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by the defendant and his co-conspirators.
The Politico article on this arrest included this tidbit, “The arrest marks a rare instance of an individual facing criminal charges over a disinformation campaign carried out on prominent social media platforms.”
The penalty for Election Interference is between two and ten years in prison.
So, this nasty Twitter troll who had 58,000 or so followers could be facing years in prison because a few thousand people tried to vote by text based on a meme that he posted? He’s responsible for posting a meme that stupid people fell for?
My hot take: If you think you can vote in a Presidential election by text as you do with American Idol or Dancing With The Stars — then you probably shouldn’t be voting at all.
Now, let me get this straight — in 2016 the FBI launched an investigation into the Trump campaign based on disinformation cooked up by Hillary’s campaign to distract from her email server, and this was known by former President Barack Obama and current President Joe Biden, but the biggest problem in the 2016 election was that 4,900 idiots tried to vote by text because some troll posted a meme?!
And hey, we can’t look into allegations of election fraud in 2020 where there were some last-minute, pandemic-related election shenanigans in swing states?!
This is the kind of thing that happens in Iran, not America.
No, really. Something like this literally happened in Iran. A social media “influencer” posted images of herself claiming that she was having multiple surgeries to look like Anjelina Jolie. It turns out, her creepy, skeletal photos with huge lips and a cartoonish nose were the result of prosthetics, makeup, and photoshop. She was arrested for blasphemy and a slew of other charges.
Is this where we’re headed?
Apparently, the answer to that is “Yes.”
Now, tell me again how Trump was an authoritarian.