Trial Of Douglass Mackey
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The Trial of Douglas Mackey occurred in 2023, when the rightwing meme account admin was convicted in federal court for conspiring to deprive people of their right to vote. In 2016, Mackey worked with a group of influencers to spread photos and false announcements imitating Clinton campaign materials and telling people they could vote for Hillary Clinton by texting, with no need to go to the polls. The charges hold a possible penalty of ten years in prison.
At first, Douglass Mackey posted on Twitter as @Ricky_Vaughn99. By the time of the account's banning by Twitter on October 14th, 2016, the account had upwards of 58,000 followers and was ranked as the 107th most influential account in discussions about the 2016 presidential election on the platform, according to MIT Media Labs. Following the original account's deletion, Mackey continued to post using the handle @RapinBill, frequently retweeting troll accounts associated with the Russian government and white supremacists. His profile picture for @Ricky_Vaughn99 was of Charlie Sheen from a movie wearing a Photoshopped MAGA hat (seen below).
Mackey posted a series of memes imitating Hillary Clinton campaign materials, encouraging voters to vote by text, with the intention of fooling them into not actually voting. Two examples can be seen below, although the original posts have since been deleted. On or around Election Day 2016, around 4,900 unique phone numbers texted to vote using the information Mackey had posted.
After being kicked off Twitter, he moved to Gab in 2018. However, on Gab he was doxxed: his real identity was revealed by Paul Nehlen, a candidate running against then-House Speaker Paul Ryan for a Wisconsin congressional seat. The doxxing happened as a result of some intricate beef between posters on Gab, the extreme rightwing social media platform: one, called Weev, accused another poster of being an informant for the federal government, who then accused Weev and Ricky Vaughn of trying to split the movement. Nehlen doxxed Vaughn on April 3rd, 2018, and then he was kicked off of Gab. Subsequent investigations into Mackey's life found that he was a 28-year-old man from Vermont working in finance.
In January 2021, Mackey was arrested in Florida. At some point in 2023, he appears to have started a defense fund soliciting donations in cash and crypto, and registered it under the website domain memedefensefund.com. Mackey was found guilty on March 31st, 2023, and was scheduled to be sentenced on or around August 16th, 2023.
Tucker Carlson discussed the case on his program the same day as the verdict came out. A response by Joe Rogan expressing surprise that "the memes guy" had been convicted circulated widely online. Rogan said that the Hillary Clinton vote-by-text message meme was actually "a very subtle parody" and argued that anybody who fell for it "shouldn't be able to vote anyway." (seen below).
Joe Rogan shocked at hearing “The Memes Guy," aka Doug Mackey aka Ricky Vaughn was convicted for Clinton meme and is facing ten years… pic.twitter.com/nC5Bx7FXEo— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) April 11, 2023
Elon Musk also shared his views on the case in a Twitter Spaces event, arguing that Mackey's actions weren't "criminal" (seen below).
ElonMusk</a> about Douglass Mackey, who the Biden DOJ wants to send to prison for 10 years for posting a Hillary Clinton Meme in 2016:<br><br>“Over the top… they went too far… If that’s the standard for throwing someone in prison, then there should be a lot of people in prison.” <a href="https://t.co/X2m8wnj7jl">pic.twitter.com/X2m8wnj7jl</a></p>— ALX 🇺🇸 (alx) April 12, 2023
 Justice Department – Social Media Influencer Douglass Mackey Convicted of Election Interference in 2016 Presidential Race
 Southern Poverty Law Center – 'ALT-RIGHT' DISINFORMATION KING FACES TRIAL
 Medium – Lab for Social Machines
 Huffington Post – Trump’s Most Influential White Nationalist Troll Is A Middlebury Grad Who Lives In Manhattan
 Southern Poverty Law Center – IN ANOTHER MAJOR STUMBLE FOR THE ALT-RIGHT, PUNDIT "RICKY VAUGHN" ALLEGEDLY DOXED BY PAUL NEHLEN
 Fox News – Social Media Influencer convicted of Election Interference
 twitter – @CitizenFreePress
 memedefensefund.com – Meme Defense Fund
 Fox Nes – Tucker Carlson Tonight
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