Last week, human dumpster fire Jim Hoft posted a completely unfounded conspiracy theory on his site, Gateway Pundit, that Douglas High School students like David Hogg were “crisis actors” in the latest gun control campaign.
But according to an analysis by research group New Media Frontier, it wasn’t Hoft’s fellow Alt-Right tools who are responsible for the viral spread of his conspiracy theory:
Fascinating new media story here: how Chelsea Clinton was far more responsible for spreading the Parkland shooting conspiracy theory about “crisis actors” than any crazy on the right: https://t.co/bWf19VyPE7 pic.twitter.com/NMnKnUvYEQ
— Steve Krakauer (@SteveKrak) March 1, 2018
More from Wired:
Of the 660 tweets and retweets of the “crisis actors” Gateway Pundit conspiracy story during the hour after it was posted, 200 (30 percent) came from accounts that have tweeted more than 45,000 times. Human, cyborg, or bot, these accounts are acting with purpose to amplify content (more on this in a moment). And this machinery of curation, duplication, and amplification both cultivates echo chambers that keep human users engaged and impacts how social media companies’ algorithms decide what is important, trending, and promoted to other users—part of triggering a feedback loop to win the “algorithmic popularity contest.”
However, this trending content was not pushed solely from the right. At 6:21 pm, Frank Luntz (@frankluntz, a prominent pollster and PR executive with almost 250,000 followers) tweeted in protest of the Gateway Pundit story, becoming one of four non-right-wing amplifiers of the story with verified accounts. (In most cases, getting content seen by or promoted by verified accounts greatly accelerates its amplification.) The other three are the New York Times’ Nick Confessore, MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin, and former first daughter Chelsea Clinton. Each of them quote-tweeted the Gateway Pundit story to denounce it, but in doing so gave it more amplification.
Here’s what Chelsea Clinton tweeted:
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 20, 2018
By the next morning, the Gateway Pundit story had been promoted roughly 30,000 times on Twitter. These four progressive influencers were responsible for more than 60 percent of the total mentions of the story.
Very interesting. https://t.co/WVhrj9UMdf
— RBe (@RBPundit) March 1, 2018
It’s pretty obvious that Clinton wasn’t trying to spread the “crisis actor” conspiracy. But it’s hard not to wonder if it would’ve gained so much traction without her unintentional help.
Famous people being outraged by idiots and trolls spread the troll's message far more than a tinfoil hat man ever could.
— mitrebox (@mitrebox) March 1, 2018