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US SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER WHO DECEIVED VOTERS CHARGED WITH ELECTION INTERFERENCE

A social media influencer who deceived American voters by disseminating false information has been charged with election interference.


Douglas Mackey aka Ricky Vaughn was arrested on Wednesday by criminal complaint in the Eastern District of New York and appeared before U.S Magistrate Judge Bruce E.Reinhart of the Southern District of Florida.


Report indicates that during the build up to the 2016 US election, Mackey, who had up to 58,000 followers on Twitter, told his audience who were supporters of a particular candidate, to send their votes via a text message or social media, a legally invalid method of voting.

The accused was charged for "exploiting a social media platform to infringe one of the most basic and sacred rights guaranteed by the Constitution :the right to vote.".


A press release by the US Department of Justice highlights some of Mackey’s electoral interference schemes below:


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.


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