New Online Warning: Beware An Army Of Paid Hillary Trolls

Hillary Trolls

Are those Hillary supporters you’ve been arguing with online real people?

While you are spending precious personal time ripping your hair out and debating online with Hillary supporters, they are being paid for their time. While you’re responding to each and every person’s comment on a thread, you’re probably talking to the same person using multiple accounts. All this according to a new report from The Stream.

A significant portion of online support for Hillary Clinton is manufactured by paid “astroturf” trolls: a large team of supporters who spend long hours responding to negative news on the internet about her. The Clinton SuperPAC Correct the Record, which is affiliated with her campaign, acknowledged in an April press release that it was spending $1 million on project “Breaking Barriers” to pay people to respond to negative information about Clinton on social media sites like Facebook, Reddit, Instagram and Twitter. That amount has since increased to over $6 million. The trolls create a false impression that Clinton has more support than she really does, because one supporter will frequently create multiple anonymous accounts.

Can you imagine? $6 million to post on social media about Hillary? I’d be willing to cash in some checks pretending to be a deranged Hillary supporter online for a couple hours a week if they’re handing out that kind of free money! That is a significant chunk of change that could be used to pay tens of thousands of Hillary trolls.

According to the April press release about “Barrier Breakers 2016” from Correct the Record cited above, “The task force currently combats online political harassment, having already addressed more than 5,000 individuals who have personally attacked Secretary Clinton on Twitter.” How many more hundreds of thousands of people have they trolled since then with the millions more in additional spending? It’s staggering to think about.

Libby Watson of The Sunlight Foundation observed that the astroturf effort goes far beyond merely defending Clinton, to targeting and intimidating those who criticize her. She told The Daily Beast, “This seems to be going after essentially random individuals online.”

This is straight out of the Alinsky playbook: Pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Hillary’s digital brown-shirts are going around online trying to shut up anyone who won’t fall in line.

Brian Donahue, chief executive of the consulting firm Craft Media/Digital, explained the troll operation to The Los Angeles Times, “It is meant to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical.” He went on, “That is what the Clinton campaign has always been about. It runs the risk of being exactly what their opponents accuse them of being: a campaign that appears to be populist but is a smokescreen that is paid and brought to you by lifetime political operatives and high-level consultants.”

Hillary doesn’t have a lot of enthusiasm on her side, that’s why she has to pay people to defend her and act as if they like her. I know I’ve never met a true Hillary fan in real life, they’re all just liberals who feel stuck voting for her. If you’ve argued with someone you haven’t met online about Hillary, they were probably a paid operative.

The Daily Kos, which preferred Bernie Sanders over Clinton, observed some of these tactics during the Democratic primary. One author wrote, “[T]here have been a number of diaries claiming to ‘have switched from Bernie to Hillary’ lately, and some of them have been from recently created accounts with no record of pro-Sanders remarks or diaries.” The author further called the Clinton effort out, writing, “We are on to your presumptive corporate shilling.”

The moderators of the Sanders subreddit /r/SandersForPresident wrote that the “Bernie Bro” concept was created by fake accounts in order to “establish a narrative that Bernie’s supporters are all racist, sexist young males who harass people online.” David Fredrick, co-founder and moderator of the subreddit, told The Atlantic when Sanders was still in the race, “If anyone criticizes a Sanders supporter online now there’s doubt over whether it’s a genuine exchange or if it’s something that Correct the Record is behind.”

The story of the “Bernie Bros” really makes you wonder about all the neo-Nazi white supremacist trolls for Trump who have been harassing conservatives and others not aboard the Trump Train on Twitter for the last year. They really did some significant damage, alienating many on the right with their ruthless tactics and painting all Trump supporters as mean-spirited racists. If Hillary was the one really behind all this, I have to tip my hat to her, it was a brilliantly effective strategy executed to perfection.

David Brock, a former right-wing activist who now works for Clinton and started the left-wing site Media Matters which ruthlessly targets conservatives, is credited with creating the online trolling project. After the actor Tim Robbins, a Sanders supporter, received a barrage of tweets attacking him for speculating about election fraud hurting Sanders, Robbins responded to 88  different accounts with this tweet, “Dear @CorrectRecord operatives, Thank you for following today’s talking points. Your check is in the mail. Signed, @davidbrockdc.”

I get messages like Robbins’ accusing me of being paid by the Koch Brothers – I wish! Would be nice to get paid for trolling people online! I guess the reason conservatives are always accused of being paid for their views is because the left actually does it and they’re projecting onto us. Time for us to call them out on it. The full article is well worth a read and goes into details of who on the Clinton campaign is behind this and the history of it all.

Be careful out there online and remember: Don’t feed the Hillary trolls!

What do you think? Have you seen paid Hillary trolls online? Tell us in the comments below!

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Alexa is a freelance writer and communications consultant, with experience working on the Hill, at the RNC, and for... More about Alexa

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