Last week, Correct The Record (CTR), David Brock’s super PAC that coordinates with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, announced that it was spending $1m on social media in an effort to combat Bernie Sanders’ online dominance. How, specifically? By paying trolls.
Last night, on the eve of five Democratic Primary elections—Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland—we may have seen this paid army in action. Several notable Bernie Sanders Facebook groups were taken down following a coordinated cyber attack by Clinton supporters, in which a number of users reported content on the pages simultaneously. According to US Uncut, “Facebook’s automated systemstake note of how many individuals report a particular post, and if the post is reported enough, it will be taken down. This same process applies to groups, pages, and individual user accounts.”
The groups affected by the attack include (but are not limited to) the following:
Bernie Sanders Activists (40,122 members)
Bernie Sanders Is My Hero (60,097 members)
Bernie or Bust (16,812 members)
Bernie Sanders – Ideas Welcome (33,836 members)
Bernie Sanders for President 2016 (117,601 members)
Bernie Sanders Revolutionaries
Bay Area for Bernie
Thus far, there is limited evidence for which group or groups were behind these attacks, and we’ll update this page as more information comes in (see the bottom of this post for current updates). The Facebook purge didn’t last long—perhaps long enough to prevent the spread of anti-Clinton information in key hours of the evening before the primaries—but it coincided with the ThingsBernieHates hashtag (#ThingsBernieHates) trending on Twitter, which was quickly co-opted by Bernie’s grassroots online movement.
Needless to say, Sanders supporters were outraged. The Reddit group /r/SandersForPresident/ became a central hub during the down time. There and elsewhere, many angry users exchanged theories that this was the work of CTR’s paid trolls who had spammed the groups, posting inappropriate pornographic materials, only to then report the material to Facebook.