A digital-age dirty-trickster who used Twitter posts that looked like Hillary Clinton ads to spread false information before the 2016 presidential election was sentenced on Tuesday to seven months in prison.
During a trial last spring, prosecutors presented evidence that the man, Douglass Mackey, had joined private Twitter groups where participants reveled in using lies and deceit on behalf of Donald J. Trump, carrying out what one participant termed “the deep psyops of meme war.”
Much of that activity was protected by the First Amendment, prosecutors said. But they argued that Mr. Mackey committed a crime days before the election when, using the name Ricky Vaughn, he posted images targeting Black and Latino voters that claimed it was possible to vote by text message. The idea, prosecutors said, was to suppress votes for Mrs. Clinton.
One of the images showed a Black woman and another one had a message in Spanish. Both included logos resembling the Clinton campaign’s and fine print attributing them to “Hillary for President.”
Mr. Mackey, who was convicted in March of conspiring to deprive others of their right to vote, declined to address the court before his sentencing on Wednesday.
Before issuing his sentence, Judge Ann M. Donnelly, of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, said that Mr. Mackey had been “one of the leading members” of that conspiracy and that it had been “nothing short of an assault on our democracy.” [Continue reading…]