Twitter troll Douglass Mackey, aka Ricky Vaughn, was arrested on Wednesday and faces ten years in prison for “tweeting” and “retweeting” joke memes on Twitter telling people they can “text” in their votes.
Social Media Influencer Charged with Election Interference Stemming from Voter Disinformation Campaignhttps://t.co/lJ0FJz2llr
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) January 27, 2021
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Social Media Influencer Charged with Election Interference Stemming from Voter Disinformation Campaign
Defendant Unlawfully Used Social Media to Deprive Individuals of Their Right to Vote
A Florida man was arrested this morning on charges of conspiring with others in advance of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election to use various social media platforms to disseminate misinformation designed to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote.
Douglass Mackey, aka Ricky Vaughn, 31, of West Palm Beach, was charged by criminal complaint in the Eastern District of New York. He was taken into custody this morning in West Palm Beach and made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart of the Southern District of Florida.
“According to the allegations in the indictment, 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,” said Nicholas L. McQuaid, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This indictment underscores the department’s commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who would undermine citizens’ voting rights.”
“There is no place in public discourse for lies and misinformation to defraud citizens of their right to vote,” said Seth D. DuCharme, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “With Mackey’s arrest, we serve notice that those who would subvert the democratic process in this manner cannot rely on the cloak of Internet anonymity to evade responsibility for their crimes. They will be investigated, caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
“Protecting every American citizen’s right to cast a legitimate vote is a key to the success of our republic,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office. “What Mackey allegedly did to interfere with this process – by soliciting voters to cast their ballots via text – amounted to nothing short of vote theft. It is illegal behavior and contributes to the erosion of the public’s trust in our electoral processes. He may have been a powerful social media influencer at the time, but a quick Internet search of his name today will reveal an entirely different story.”
The complaint alleges that in 2016, Mackey established an audience on Twitter with approximately 58,000 followers. A February 2016 analysis by the MIT Media Lab ranked Mackey as the 107th most important influencer of the then-upcoming Election, ranking his account above outlets and individuals such as NBC News (#114), Stephen Colbert (#119) and Newt Gingrich (#141).
As alleged in the complaint, between September 2016 and November 2016, in the lead up to the Nov. 8, 2016, U.S. Presidential Election, Mackey conspired with others to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages designed to encourage supporters of one of the presidential candidates (the “Candidate”) to “vote” via text message or social media, a legally invalid method of voting.
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 charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erik Paulsen and Nathan Reilly of the Eastern District of New York, and Trial Attorney James Mann of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case.
Here’s some excerpts from the full complaint:
That’s a reference to people sharing photoshopped memes of Taylor Swift and others with MAGA hats on.
Sorry. No data so far.
The case was put together under the Trump administration by William Barr appointee Seth D. DuCharme, the Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
FBI special agent Maegan Rees appears to have led the investigation.
The indictment says “at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted ‘[Candidate’s first name]’ or some derivative to the Text Code on or about and before Election Day, including many belonging to individuals located in the Eastern District of New York.” [Emphasis added]
“Of the approximately 4,900 numbers that corresponded with the Text Code, approximately 4,850, or 99%, sent their texts after MACKEY first tweeted a Deceptive Image from MACKEY Account 2.”
For the record, those memes were shared by tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people as a joke. The meme was popularized on 4Chan.
The indictment didn’t include any proof that these 4,850 texters were in fact disenfranchised, nor did it include any evidence they saw the meme due to Mackey’s account.
The feds also tried to connect this indictment to the Capitol protests.
“The co-conspirators were not named in the complaint, but one of them was Anthime Gionet, a far-right media personality known as ‘Baked Alaska,’ who was arrested this month for participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to a person briefed on the investigation,” The New York Times reported.
The indictment accuses Mackey and his “co-conspirators” of the “unusual charge” of “conspiracy to violate rights” for sharing these memes:
“The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison,” The Times reported.
Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter can conspire together to rig the entire internet in favor of Democrats without any issue but Twitter trolls who helped Trump win in 2016 are being charged over memes.
This is absolute lunacy!
The Biden regime told us they were going to deliver “unity and healing” — instead they’re conducting mass arrests of Trump supporters for so much as walking around the Capitol and vindictively persecuting them over memes they shared four years ago!
UPDATE: This appears to be the little-used law they’re charging him under:
If Mackey can be charged with “conspiracy to violate rights” over memes, what’s stopping right-wing prosecutors from charging anti-Second Amendment groups for “conspiring” to take away our Second Amendment rights?
What’s stopping prosecutors from indicting the media outlets and social media heads who are conspiring to take away our First Amendment rights?
Tucker Carlson On Biden's DOJ Going After Doug Mackey Over Memes He Posted During The 2016 Election
"What you may be wondering does a case like this mean for the 1st Amendment. Well, it means that it is effectively suspended. You can be arrested for saying the wrong things." pic.twitter.com/Dioymd55we
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) January 28, 2021
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