Douglass Mackey’s Criminal Twitter Trolling

For the entire time since MattyDickPics started complaining about the fact he couldn’t see nonconsensual pictures of Hunter Biden’s dick, he and other apologists for disinformation have claimed there was nothing to the effort to suppress the vote using Twitter.

A jury in Brooklyn just decided otherwise. Douglass Mackey — who was indicted for attempting to suppress the Black and Latino vote in 2016 — was found guilty of conspiring to violate his targets’ right to vote.

As proven at trial, between September 2016 and November 2016, Mackey conspired with other influential Twitter users and with members of private online groups to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages that encouraged supporters of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to “vote” via text message or social media which, in reality, was legally invalid. For example, on November 1, 2016, in or around the same time that Mackey was sending tweets suggesting the importance of limiting “black turnout,” the defendant tweeted an image depicting an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for Hillary” sign. The ad stated: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,” “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925,” and “Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.” The fine print at the bottom of the deceptive 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 Hillary For President 2016.” The tweet included the typed hashtag “#ImWithHer,” a slogan frequently used by Hillary Clinton. On or about and before Election Day 2016, at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted “Hillary” or some derivative to the 59925 text number, which had been used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by Mackey and his co-conspirators.

Several hours after tweeting the first image, Mackey tweeted an image depicting a woman seated at a conference room typing a message on her cell phone. This deceptive image was written in Spanish and mimicked a font used by the Clinton campaign in authentic ads. The image also included a copy of the Clinton campaign’s logo and the “ImWithHer” hashtag.

The people with whom Mackey conspired are a collection of leading figures in the (Russian-backed) alt-Right.

I plan to return to this trial in weeks ahead.

But for the moment, this verdict says that all the disinformation that Matt Taibbi and Elon Musk are working to replatform on Twitter has been found to be potentially criminal.

24 replies
  1. oldtulsadude says:

    I imagine the response to this verdict from Mattydickpics would have been, “Oh, balls!”

  2. Savage Librarian says:

    Strike 3, OUT. What a way to end March: Trump indictment, Dominion ruling on Summary Judgment, Douglass Mackey/Ricky Vaughn conviction. And, for a bonus: Sergey Cherkasov in Brazil and Robert Rundo in Romania.

    But now I’m a bit worried about tomorrow being April 1.

  3. phred says:

    Thanks EW!

    I look forward to learning more about the trial and the Russian connection when you return to the subject…

  4. RipNoLonger says:

    Musk and Taibbi being caught in some nefarious activities? Such outstanding examples of pure capitalism and journalism? Say it isn’t so. Who to trust now? Bezos/Thiel/etc. and Murdoch/NYT/etc.?

  5. John_02DEC2022_2011h says:

    Well done EDNY. That office doesn’t get enough credit.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. SECOND REQUEST: Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. We also have quite a few community members named “John.” For this reason your username will temporarily be changed to indicate the date of your first comment, until you’ve chosen a new username. Thanks. /~Rayne]


    This verdict seems ripe for reversal on appeal in a higher court. I can see protecting the sanctity of elections at all levels, but people get legally bamboozled in myriad ways via deceptive marketing that aren’t criminal in the eyes of the law. They’re gullible and ill-informed, and consequently make bad decisions. Will SCOTUS think differently about someone selling lies promising to make you feel and look younger if you’ll just buy these pills, as opposed to selling the type of lies Mackey peddled?

      • STEPHEN DUNCAN says:

        So if telling lies about an election are crimes, lies that allegedly affect the behavior and opinions and actions of voters, does that mean the purveyors of lies working for FOX News should be similarly jailed?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Apples and oranges, but you probably already know that. Your example is obviously 1A protected speech, not criminal unless it incites imminent physical violence.

          Defrauding voters about when, how, and where to vote for a specific election is a crime. The latter has 1A implications, but they are outweighed by the threat to the franchise, already a delicate right much abused in the past by American governments and under assault today by Republican legislatures, governors, and congresscritters.

        • Rayne says:

          More right-wing bullshit, conflating 18 USC 241–Conspiracy of rights by spreading false information about an election with intent to suppress voters, and the media’s First Amendment protected speech. SCOTUS has already found lies are protected speech, but not deliberate interference with civil rights.

          Fox News will face accountability about its demonstrably false statements defaming Dominion and Smartmatic in their civil suits against Fox. Fox can lie but it cannot expect to defame and damage a person or business with its lies.

          At least one-third of your comments here at this site have amplified right-wing talking points. This site has no obligation to provide you space to continue to do so.

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          Popcorn-worthy event in April:
          The Dominion v. Fox trial date is set to begin Monday, April 17th.

          (I was hoping for another popcorn event, this one being for Sidney Powell’s disbarment trial. It was set for the 24th, but Judge Andrea Bouressa dismissed the case in late February. Rats! She may not be disbarred, but her day is a comin’!)

        • Rayne says:

          Earmarking April 17 on the calendar. I guess I’d better check my butter supply before then, too. LOL

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Issuing seemingly official instructions to tell people when and how to vote – that are intentionally misleading and would make those votes invalid – is election fraud.

      • BobBobCon says:

        No kidding, prosecutors didn’t bring a case based on vague allusions to deception, they looked at the specifics of the case.

        The reference to deceptive marketing is just empty headed. Some deceptive marketing is legal, other forms are a crime. There are specific standards that have to be met for criminal cases on marketing, and if they are, a defendant doesn’t escape consequences by offering a vague excuse about some stuff being allowed.

    • Dmbeaster says:

      “people get legally bamboozled in myriad ways via deceptive marketing that aren’t criminal in the eyes of the law”

      Making specific false statements about voting procedure with the intent to prevent voting is illegal. Intentionally deceiving qualified voters to prevent them from voting is voter suppression—and it is a federal crime.

    • Rayne says:

      No. Do not spew that kind of right-wing crap here. Mackey was charged and convicted with 18 USC 241 – Conspiracy against rights:

      If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or

      If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—

      They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

      Fortunately for him, Mackey stopped at injuring others’ rights to vote through his dissemination of false information about the 2016 election; he could still face state charges.

      This isn’t lying about snake oil’s benefits; it’s interfering with others’ civil rights. Citizens still have those rights no matter how competent you believe them to be.

  7. harpie says:

    The fine print at the bottom of the deceptive 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 Hillary For President 2016.

    That was a nice touch.

    • Richard Turnbull says:

      Nice touch — if it was done out of a self-destructive delusion that it was never, ever going to enhance
      the possibility of a criminal conviction, sure!

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