2016 presidential election

Influencer Interfered in '16 Election Through Voter Disinformation Campaign: Feds

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • A social media influencer was charged with conspiring with others in advance of the 2016 presidential election by using various social media platforms in a disinformation campaign designed to deprive individuals with their right to vote, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Seth DuCharme announced Wednesday.
  • According to the unsealed criminal complaint, in 2016, Douglass Mackey, also known as “Ricky Vaughn,” established an audience on Twitter with about 58,000 followers.
  • If convicted of the charge, conspiracy against rights, Mackey faces up to 10 years in prison. Attorney information was not immediately known.

A social media influencer was charged with conspiring with others in advance of the 2016 presidential election by using various social media platforms in a disinformation campaign designed to deprive individuals with their right to vote, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Seth DuCharme announced Wednesday.

According to the unsealed criminal complaint, in 2016, Douglass Mackey, also known as “Ricky Vaughn,” established an audience on Twitter with about 58,000 followers.

Allegedly, between September 2016 and November 2016, leading up to the Nov. 8, 2016 United States Presidential Election, Mackey, 31 and of West Palm Beach, conspired with others to use social media platforms to share fraudulent messages designed to encourage supporters of one of the presidential candidates to “vote” via text message or social media, which in turn would lead them to fail to cast their ballots in a legally valid manner.

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 Mackey shared in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by him and his co-conspirators, according to court documents.

If convicted of the charge, conspiracy against rights, Mackey faces up to 10 years in prison. Attorney information was not immediately known.

Although the court documents do not specifically identify the supporters of which candidate he targeted via his campaign, Mackey became one of the most notorious pro-Trump internet trolls leading up to the 2016 election and was banned from Twitter for spreading anti-Semitic and racist content, according to a NY Daily News report. A February 2016 analysis by the MIT Media Lab ranked Mackey as the 107th most important influencer of the then-upcoming Election, ranking it above outlets and individuals, among others, such as NBC News (#114), Stephen Colbert (#119) and Newt Gingrich (#141), according to federal prosecutors.

Contact Us