You know you’re in big trouble when you have to hire trolls to push a positive image of you online. Check out what this Hillary ‘digital task force’ job is. It’s kind of embarrassing.
In dark corners of the internet, Hillary Clinton is a crook and a liar. Facebook groups— “Stop Hillary Clinton in 2016,” “Americans Against Hillary Clinton”—malign the former first lady and current Democratic presidential front-runner. Twitter accounts signal disdain using hashtags like #NeverClinton, #NeverHillary, and #CrookedHillary.
At least some Clinton allies aren’t content to sit idly by. In April, Correct the Record, a super PAC devoted to defending Clinton, announced a plan to fight attacks against Clinton and her supporters online by sinking more than $1 million into personnel and infrastructure for a digital task force. According to a press release heralding the effort, the task force, which was given the name Barrier Breakers 2016, will “engage in online messaging both for Secretary Clinton and to push back against attackers on social media.” What could possibly go wrong?
For one thing, the effort threatened to validate a long-standing criticism that Clinton can’t generate adequate enthusiasm. It suggested her allies were willing to spend eye-poppingly large sums of money to shut down opponents. Mockery and cynicism ensued. “They’re going to spend a million dollars to go out there to attack regular people who support Bernie Sanders,” John Iadarola of the progressive web series The Young Turksmarveled shortly after the news broke.
Correct the Record was quick to say it had no intention of resorting to attacks of its own. “Currently, Barrier Breakers 2016 distributes positive messages in support of Hillary Clinton for President, not anything else,” Elizabeth Shappell, a spokesperson for the super PAC, told The Daily Beast in April. Correct the Record claims it can legally coordinate with the Clinton campaign and does not engage in paid public communications. The goal, it insisted, was to fight online harassment aimed at Clinton and her supporters by staying positive. But how exactly is the super PAC attempting to do that—and will it actually work?
Much of the effort appears to be fairly anodyne so far. An official-looking Twitter account, Facebook page, and Instagram and Pinterest accounts have been set up. The social media accounts seem to consist mainly of graphics and videos that deliver inspirational pro-Clinton messages, content that appears to have been designed in the hopes that it might go viral. “Even if she weren’t a woman, she would be the best candidate,” reads a quote from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright superimposed on a graphic posted to the Facebook account. It continues: “I have never seen anybody better prepared to be president of the United States. Ever.”