A new report indicates Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Beto O’Rourke are all going to be primary targets of mysterious social media campaigns.
As the field of Democratic presidential hopefuls slowly takes shape, so do the contours of a massive social media disinformation campaign that appears designed to torpedo individual candidacies, confuse voters, and create a general sense of chaos and mistrust within the party. A Politico investigation found that Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Beto O’Rourke appear to be the “main targets,” but that no prominent candidate is exempt. In other words: If you thought the fake news sites and Russian Twitter bots of 2016 were harmful to The Discourse, it looks as if 2020 is going to be a lot worse.
The tools of the trade—eminently-shareable memes, scandalous-sounding questions, and incendiary hashtags—are standard-issue gross Internet fodder. One post, says Politico, pushed a “false narrative…alleging that a blackface doll appeared on a kitchen cabinet in the background of the senator’s New Year’s Eve Instagram livestream”; another “widely seen tweet employed racist and sexist stereotypes in an attempt to sensationalize Harris’ relationship with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.” The perceived distinctions between “centrist” candidates (you know who) and “progressive” ones (again, you know who) is also a popular pressure point. Many of the accounts in question were the same ones which, in the weeks before the 2018 midterm elections, tirelessly proclaimed that invading immigrant caravans would soon overrun the country if Americans didn’t vote as many Republicans as humanly possible into elected office.