How far would President Obama’s supporters go to make his message dominant on gun control? Too far, according to Representative Steve Stockman’s (R-TX) office, which identified a number of fake Twitter accounts posting the same message: “I’m one of the 92% of Americans who support universal background checks. #WeDemandAVote.”
After President Obama called on supporters to tweet their Congressman with the #WeDemandAVote hashtag, bloggers recognized the duplicated, suspicious messages being aimed at Stockman.
In a press release, Stockman noted that of the 16 tweets directed at him, all were identical, only six were from real people and only one was actually from a constituent. Ten of 16 tweets sent were clearly fake accounts curated for the purpose of astroturfing the Twittersphere.
With no profile photos, no interaction with other people, and mostly following only members of Obama’s digital team, the tweeters in question don’t appear to be organic accounts. Additionally, many of the profiles appear to have been created less than 48 hours before the online campaign began – and one “user” hadn’t sent a tweet since 2008.
Stockman’s office collected screen shots of all the tweets and Buzzfeed compiled them in a graphic. Here is a sample of some of the tweets in question:
In a statement, Stockman called Obama’s anti-gun campaign a “fraud” and demanded the White House explain itself.
“To what extent is the White House involved in this attempt to defraud Congress?” he said.
Stockman was one of 16 Members of Congress who received the tweets, according to Fox News.
Creating a false narrative to boost support for a policy position doesn’t contribute to a fair and balanced debate – it only harms the conversation about a serious issue like gun control.
The hashtag campaign was started by Obama’s new grassroots organizing platform, Organizing for Action – a product of Obama for America, his electoral campaign. The organization only launched in January 2013, but if this kind of dishonest “action” is how they plan to organize support for the President’s policies, they won’t get far with conservative watchdogs eyeballing their every move.