Like back in 2016?
(Hillary Clinton has dissed Sanders recently)
Sanders supporters have become hell bent in their efforts to promote their guy….
It seems to emulate some the Donald Trump disinformation (Russian 2016) tricks….
The efforts seem particularly aimed at Elizabeth Warren, Sanders rival for the progressive vote….
And is worrisome ….
The volume and viciousness of the memes — portraying Warren (D-Mass.) as a snake, a backstabber and a liar — reflect how Facebook identifies and rewards emotionally charged content to generate reactions from its billions of users. That serves the company’s ad-driven business model, which equates engagement with profit. But it also, in the view of experts who study Facebook’s effect on political speech, distorts democratic debate by confirming biases, sharpening divisions and elevating the glib visual logic of memes over reasoned discussion….
Since the beginning of 2019, nearly 3,000 active Facebook pages supporting Sanders have generated more than 290 million interactions — meaning shares, likes or other user actions — according to an analysis by Trevor Davis, a research professor at Livingston’s institute. For contrast, about 350 pages devoted to former vice president Joe Biden have generated just 9 million interactions; nearly 300 pro-Warren pages come in at under 20 million interactions.
That breakdown is vastly out of sync with projected support for the candidates in polls, which show Sanders gaining ground but still behind Biden in an average of surveys. This underscores a new reality: Facebook gives individual users power over public discourse disproportionate to their authority at the ballot box.
Such outsized influence once required significant resources — money for printed materials, access to a broadcast studio or time to reach people face-to-face. Now all it requires is a smartphone.
One popular technique introduced by Facebook last spring allows sharing to multiple groups with a few simple clicks on a mobile device, allowing enthusiasts such as Walters to broadcast their views even more quickly than before.
The rising popularity of the tactic among Sanders supporters may help explain the scores of images bashing Sanders’s opponents that have appeared in nearly simultaneous bursts in recent weeks, pushed out by highly networked clusters of Facebook users, according to Davis’s analysis. He did not find evidence that the campaign itself was involved in this activity, focusing instead on the informal Facebook activity by supporters.
No other Democrat’s supporters are engaged in behavior on a similar scale, which is more characteristic of the online movement galvanized by Trump. The president’s campaign aides have credited Facebook with his victory in 2016, when he poured money into advertising on the platform while also using organic posts on social media to speak directly to his followers, who responded with a torrent of posts backing him and lacerating his opponents.
Sanders has similarly embraced social media as a tool in the political revolution he promises, though the candidate’s posts hardly echo the personal insults lobbed by Trump. And the senator’s campaign distanced itself from the online attacks. “As the senator has said loudly and clearly, there is no room in the political revolution for abuse and harassment online,” said Sarah Ford, a campaign spokeswoman.
The pro-Sanders forums focus on a range of themes, including the senator’s independence from corporate interests and his opposition to President Trump. At the same time, many of the images that fill the groups and pages are strikingly negative about rival Democrats, depicting former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg as a wine-swilling CIA plant with Republican leanings and Biden as a feckless politician who preys on women….