Social Media Influencer Charged with Election Interference

  • An American social media influencer has been charged with managing a misinformation campaign that tricked social media consumers into believing that they could vote by text information in the 2016 US presidential election.

    Douglass Mackey, aka Ricky Vaughn, was arrested yesterday early morning on expenses of conspiring with others in advance of the election to unfold misinformation created to deprive US citizens of their constitutional suitable to vote.

    Mackey, of West Palm Seashore, Florida, was charged by prison grievance in the Jap District of New York and unveiled on a $50k bond. In accordance to the complaint, the 31-yr-outdated shared fraudulent messages encouraging supporters of a single of the presidential candidates to vote via text message or social media, a lawfully invalid technique of voting.

    Amongst the misinformation allegedly shared by Mackey was an impression shared on November 1, 2016, on Twitter that confirmed an African American female standing in entrance of an “African Us citizens for Hillary Clinton” indicator. The image provided the adhering to text: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Dwelling. Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925[.] Vote for Hillary and be a component of history.”

    Great print at the base of the image stated “Must be 18 or more mature to vote. 1 vote for every individual. Need to be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by textual content not out there in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Compensated for by Hillary for President 2016.”

    At the very least 4,900 special phone quantities texted the identify Hillary or some by-product to the 59925 variety.

    In 2016, Mackey experienced roughly 58,000 Twitter followers. A February 2016 analysis by the MIT Media Lab ranked one of Mackey’s Twitter handles @Ricky_Vaughn99 as the 107th most important influencer of the then-approaching election.

    By comparison, NBC Information was ranked #114, the Washington Post at #43, Vladimir Putin at #41, the musician Cher at #101, and Beau Biden at #63.

    “What Mackey allegedly did to interfere with this process—by soliciting voters to solid their ballots via text—amounted to nothing short of vote theft,” reported William Sweeney Jr., assistant director in demand of the FBI’s New York Subject Workplace.

    “It is illegal habits and contributes to the erosion of the public’s believe in in our electoral procedures.”