Misinformation mega-donor Reid Hoffman whose disinfo campaign influenced the 2017 Alabama Senate election is bankrolling a meme war.
“Meme 2020, the collective of social media influencers and content creators that posted sponsored content in support of Michael Bloomberg’s Democratic presidential primary run, is back with a new campaign aimed at preventing the re-election of President Donald Trump,” The New York Times reported. This project is being funded by no less than LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, who infamously backed a group that The Washington Post claimed “spread disinformation during the 2017 Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.”
News for Democracy, which received Hoffman’s donations, “spread disinformation during the 2017 Alabama special election for U.S. Senate,” The Washington Post reported. As a result Republican nominee Roy Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones by a narrow margin. Hoffman has reportedly funnelled 56 times more money into manipulating content to win elections than Russians reportedly did during the American 2016 presidential election.
The Post reported how Hoffman himself admitted the tactics involved were “highly disturbing” and attempted to distance himself from them. The Post explained that one tactic that had reportedly been exposed was that “backers had created false online evidence that a network of Russian automated accounts, called bots, were supporting Moore.” Hoffman claimed that he saw that particular tactic “the most disturbing aspect” of the scandal.
Meme 2020 has reportedly partnered with the NeverTrump “Lincoln Project,” an organization whose misinformation has been so egregious that even Twitter was forced to fact-check it, and Rhyme Combinator, which The Times described as “a viral media company that promotes artistic and progressive causes.”
This new meme campaign is reportedly focused on “vote-by-mail registration,” and “has begun rolling out across dozens of popular Instagram meme pages.” The Times writer Taylor Lorenz summarized her article via tweet: “Reid Hoffman is financing a massive IG meme campaign w/ animated YouTube rap battles aimed at getting Trump out of office.”
The Times quoted Meme 2020 founder and C.E.O Mick Purzycki’s statements on how his company is working with data scientists and statisticians to conduct months of research on creating successful memes. “We found that memes that were intended to be explicitly anti-Trump weren’t as persuasive as those that weren’t so explicit,” Purzycki acknowledged.
According to The Times, Purzycki explained how he has developed methods to sneak past people’s mental safeguards:
“People have become so good at identifying when the voice of the meme feels like it’s coming from the left, and it forces the right to entrench. Memes that are cloaked in a way to slightly make fun of the left first, then lean into a hard critique of Trump, end up moving both moderates and Republicans in the intended direction.”