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Of Course 4chan Trolls Were a Factor in the Iowa Caucus Disaster

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As we’ve noted, there were a lot of conspiracy theories about how things went so completely wrong during the Iowa caucuses, with bogus claims that, for instance, members of the DNC afraid of a Sanders victory or other liberal organizations were somehow behind the mess. But NBC News reports that it wasn’t other Democrats that exacerbated the clusterfuck on Monday night, but trolls from 4Chan, aka the worst place on the internet.

Now, as we’ve explained, the caucuses took place at over 1,600 precincts throughout Iowa and when the results were done, the precinct captains had to get the results to the state. This was supposed to be done via an app, but the app failed and so the captains were left having to call into the hotline … a hotline which was clogged by troll calls, thanks to 4Chan.

According to NBC:

Users on a politics-focused section of the fringe 4chan message board repeatedly posted the phone number for the Iowa Democratic Party, which was found by a simple Google search, both as screenshots and in plain text, alongside instructions.

The 4Chan trolls used this to clog the phone lines and thus cause massive delays in the reporting of the caucus results. And of course, when reported emerged of Trump supporters calling in and disrupting the reporting of results, 4Chan users gloated: “Uh oh how unfortunate it would be for a bunch of mischief makers to start clogging the lines,” a user posted.

4Chan, for those that are lucky enough not to know, is an internet haven for misogyny, hatred, and general trolling that’s produced some of the worst online trends and messes of the last decade. They’re most famous for orchestrating the systematic harassment of female game developers and critics known as “gamergate.”

The fact that these horrible “people” would want to disrupt the Iowa caucuses for funsies and support Trump should surprise no one familiar with 4Chan and the Alt-Right movement that they were in part responsible for. Many writers have drawn a direct line from GamerGate to the Alt-Right to Trump. These are the same sort of men who came up with ideas like “involuntary celibacy.” They are racist, angry, sexist, disaffected, and radicalized.

The impact of this “prank” is not just inconvenience. It fans the flames of a fundamental distrust for establishments and, in this case, for the Democratic party. The Caucuses are stupid but this makes it all so much worse.  And that, like so many wedges, causes incredible harm that the right and other hostile forces like Russia will mine and manipulate. People like the users of 4Chan already have defiled and broken American democracy, this is just them peeing on its grave.

Thanks to the mess in Iowa, one that was exacerbated by these jerks, but not solely caused by them, DNC chair Tom Perez has called for a recanvass (basically a recount) of the Iowa caucus results. The results were inconsistent and confusing for many, and the mathematical formula used in the caucuses tended to give candidates an outsize amount of delegates in relation to the actual people that caucuses for them.

What can we do? Other than this recanvass … not much. There is, I guess, some good news: Iowa is only one state with a few delegates and we’re heading into primaries that will at least use votes … so things will, we pray, run smoother in New Hampshire. Then again …

(via: NBC News)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.