A social media influencer, Douglass Mackey, known as Ricky Vaughn, has been sentenced to seven months in prison and fined $15,000 for his role in a conspiracy to interfere with potential voters' right to vote in the 2016 presidential election. Court documents reveal that Mackey, who had amassed approximately 58,000 followers on Twitter, was ranked as one of the most significant influencers of the 2016 presidential election by the MIT Media Lab.
Between September 2016 and November 2016, Mackey conspired with other influential Twitter users and private online groups to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to spread false messages encouraging supporters of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to "vote" via text message or social media, which was legally invalid. In one example, on November 1, 2016, Mackey tweeted an image featuring an African American woman in front of an "African Americans for Hillary" sign, urging people to "Vote from Home," "Text 'Hillary' to 59925," and "Vote for Hillary and be a part of history."
The tweet included deceptive fine print at the bottom, specifying that voters must be 18 or older, one vote per person, and a legal citizen of the United States. It also noted that voting by text was not available in certain regions. The image bore the hashtag "#ImWithHer," which was commonly used by Hillary Clinton's campaign. Prior to Election Day in 2016, at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted "Hillary" or similar variations to the 59925 text number, which was used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by Mackey and his co-conspirators.
Shortly after the first image, Mackey tweeted another misleading image in Spanish, imitating the font used in authentic ads by the Clinton campaign. The image featured the Clinton campaign's logo and the "#ImWithHer" hashtag.
Douglass Mackey was previously convicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn for conspiracy against rights. Today's sentencing marks the legal consequences of his involvement in the conspiracy to interfere with voters' rights during the 2016 presidential election.