- Turning Point Action, a member of pro-Trump youth organization Turning Point USA, was paying teenagers – some minors – in Arizona to spread conservative topics of conversation via social media, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
- Twitter and Facebook have banned multiple accounts as part of an ongoing review in response to the Post's questions about the social media campaign.
- Experts told the Washington Post that these posts could bypass the efforts of social media platforms to curb the spread of disinformation, despite their similarity to spam bots and troll accounts.
- "In 2016, Macedonian teenagers got involved in the elections by running a troll farm and writing great for-the-money articles," Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, told The Post. "In this election, the troll farm is in Phoenix."
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A pro-Trump youth activist organization paid teenagers to post conservative talking points, including misleading or false claims, on social media. The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Turning Point Action, a member of the conservative group Turning Point USA, hired teenagers, some minors, in Arizona to spread conservative messages, downplay the coronavirus pandemic and support the election of President Donald Trump, the Post report said. Charlie Kirk, who spoke and hosted other events with President Donald Trump at this year's Republican National Convention, is the 26-year-old founder and president of Turning Point Action.
"Nearly 4,500 tweets of identical content identified in the analysis are likely a fraction of the total output" on Twitter last summer, and such messages also expanded to Facebook and Instagram, The Post reported.
Despite mimicking the behavior of social media spam bots, experts told The Post that the posts bypassed social media platforms' efforts to curb disinformation amid the ongoing pandemic and controversial elections in 2020.
Questions about the campaign published by The Post prompted Twitter to ban at least 20 accounts for "platform manipulation and spam". Facebook also launched an ongoing review of the accounts involved in the campaign, which also resulted in the removal of several accounts. CNN reported.
Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, compared the social media campaign to a "troll farm" and demonstrated that "the scope and scope of disinformation domestically is far greater than anything a foreign adversary could do to us ".
"In 2016, Macedonian teenagers got involved in the elections by running a troll farm and writing great articles for money," Brookie told the Post. "In this election, the troll farm is in Phoenix."
Austin Smith, the field director of Turning Point Action, was comparing a "gross misrepresentation" of the social media campaign, describing it as "genuine political activism carried out by real people who are passionate about the beliefs they hold online and not from an anonymous troll farm. " in Russia."
"Like everyone else, Turning Point Action's plans for nationwide personal events and activities have been completely disrupted by the pandemic," Smith said in a statement to the Post. "Many positions that TPA had planned in the field work would be completely eliminated, but TPA managed to redefine these roles and work with our marketing partners, and switched some to a virtual and online activist model."