Bloomberg Campaigns Like it’s 2016
“I (don’t) Like Mike” will be my Democratic campaign slogan for any other candidate than Michael Bloomberg. The US 2016 presidential election was tainted by news that foreign interference in the form of social media manipulation skewed public opinion unfairly and illegally to leverage a presidential candidate. At least that was the upshot of the Mueller investigation. Ever since, Washington has been debating the best way to stop such interference from happening again.
2016 was the election year that Americans typically refer to as rigged, or at least interfered with by the Russians, who launched social media campaigns to sway voters. It turns out, Washington has done exactly nothing to deter insidious campaign influence, as evidenced by the LA Times article reporting the recent closing of seventy of Bloomberg’s campaign accounts, which were in violation of Twitter’s platform manipulation rules, which were rolled out this past September:
You may not use Twitter’s services in a manner intended to artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in behavior that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience on Twitter.
“We want Twitter to be a place where people can make human connections, find reliable information, and express themselves freely and safely. To make that possible, we do not allow spam or other types of platform manipulation. We define platform manipulation as using Twitter to engage in bulk, aggressive, or deceptive activity that misleads others and/or disrupts their experience.
Platform manipulation can take many forms and our rules are intended to address a wide range of prohibited behavior, including:
- commercially-motivated spam, that typically aims to drive traffic or attention from a conversation on Twitter to accounts, websites, products, services, or initiatives;
- inauthentic engagements, that attempt to make accounts or content appear more popular or active than they are; and
- coordinated activity, that attempts to artificially influence conversations through the use of multiple accounts, fake accounts, automation and/or scripting
Bloomberg had hired hundreds of employees, or paid Internet trolls, for the purposes of pumping out campaign fodder that Bloomberg provided to them, and circulate it within their social media circles. Twitter reported employees were paid $2,500/month for the purposes of
“posting identical or substantially similar Tweets or hashtags from multiple accounts you operate” and “coordinating with or compensating others to engage in artificial engagement or amplification, even if the people involved use only one account.
Naturally, the next quarry for Bloomberg was Facebook, which opened its doors to political advertisers. He intends to pollute the platform with tsunami advertising
“Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and late-comer to the 2020 Democratic primary, has paid for a tsunami of ads on television and social media, spending over $1 million-a-day on Facebook alone. Some have been more traditionally placed through ad tools provided by Facebook and Google, but the Bloomberg campaign has also ventured into paying individual people and influencers for sponsored posts.
The New York Times reported that the Bloomberg campaign was working alongside a group called Meme 2020, which is led by the CEO of the viral media group Jerry Media. All of the accounts found to have partnered with Bloomberg were paid to post fake direct messages with the candidate, according to The New York Times (The Verge)
In addition, Bloomberg has rolled out several shameful deep-fake-videos of his rivals, which Facebook bent its rules to allow.
It should come as no surprise that the strategy is part of the social media campaign that comprises the entirety of billionaire media mogul Bloomberg’s campaign trail: a virtual dump of engineered content designed to sway voter influence. Apparently, the tactic has been effective in garnering and stripping votes away from his rivals, raising their ire and indignation that he was able to do it so quickly. Perhaps Bloomberg, like the Russians, employs automated accounts and bots in the campaign, as 45% of the Russian disinformation campaign did.
In lieu of a substantial campaign platform, Bloomberg is betting that his mastery of media, social media in particular, will give him an advantage that none of his rivals can match, and that social media popularity will drive him the majority of votes needed for the nomination. He’s expecting his gargantuan campaign fund to outlast his impecunious rivals. To date, Bloomberg has pumped $450M in advertising, already eclipsing Obama’s primary and general election budget
In his arrogance, his campaign announced in a memo on the morning of the Nevada debate, that perhaps the other candidates should step aside and let him take on Sanders, on Super-Tuesday. Needless to say, the idea was rather unpopular with the other candidates, who responded with annoyance:
“Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said voters don’t “look at Donald Trump and say, ‘We need someone richer in the White House (USA Today)
“Maybe he should step aside for the person who’s got the most delegates,” Buttigieg, in a Fox News interview, said of the small lead he has over Sanders from the voting in Iowa and New Hampshire
But he tanked the debate. According to the Verge, “the candidate’s net favorability rating fell 20 percentage points.”
It turns out that as of this week, Bloomberg is correct that Sanders is extending his commanding lead, and that his rivals will win votes that he could otherwise use to defeat Sanders. While that may be true, there’s no wholesome argument that dictates that Bloomberg is the best choice for moderates to face Sanders.
A basic argument can be made for Bloomberg entering the contest to begin with: America doesn’t want or need another billionaire in the White House, one with the temerity and haughtiness only rivalled by the present Oval Office tenant.
People question Bloomberg’s vacillating party loyalty: he started as a Pro W. Bush Republican, but flipped to an independent to appear more moderate choice for New York City mayor. Subsequently, he waffled to the Democratic party with a view to encroach on an anemic field of candidates, which has since begun to coalesce around Sanders.
Many Democrat voters find the mayor repugnant and insulting. I know that I have since his days as mayor. His bullying and arrogance will actually push voters away from himself and toward Sanders. Bloomberg has never really had to compete for his offices, he only had to spend his money. He is hoping he can repeat the formula in the national general election, but to do this, he’s going to have to put in a better performance than his pathetic and laughable Nevada debate show.
“High Volume and Multiple Channels. Russian disinformation efforts tend to be wide-ranging in nature, in that they utilize any available vector for messaging, and ‘when they broadcast their messaging, they do so at an unremitting and constant tempo. Christopher Paul and Miriam Matthews from the RAND Corporation describe the Russian propaganda effort as a, “firehose of falsehood,” because of its “incredibly large volumes,” its “high numbers of channels and messages,” and a “rapid, continuous, and repetitive” pace of activity.
Russia disseminates — the disinformation calculated to achieve its objectives across a wide variety of online vehicles: “text, video, audio, and still imagery propagated via the internet, social media, satellite television and traditional radio and television broadcasting.” One expert,Laura Rosenberger of the 1 German Marshall Fund, told the Committee that “[t]he Russian government and its proxies have infiltrated and utilized nearly every social media and online information platform-including Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, Tumblr, 4chan, 9GAG, and Pinterest.”
Sound familiar? It should. Why then is America so worried about policing foreign influences that they’ve never been able to control, when they have the same problems on their own land? What would Dems say if the Trump campaign engaged in voter rigging like Bloomberg does? They would want to roll out new articles of impeachment. By the same token, we can sanction the Bloomberg campaign from competing in national elections, so that we never have to worry about impeaching Bloomberg, which would be inevitable should he win the general election.