An alt-right social media influencer has been charged for his role in voter interference during the 2016 election.
Douglass Mackey, widely known as Ricky Vaughn, was once known as Donald Trump’s most prolific Twitter follower. He was arrested by the FBI on Wednesday while at his home in West Palm Beach, Florida.
According to the department of justice, Mackey conspired with several others to “spread disinformation” about how citizens should vote during the previous election. He used his Twitter account to tell his 58,000 followers that they could vote by merely posting a specific hashtag with the candidate’s name on either Facebook or Twitter or by texting the candidate’s name to a text code. Mackey and four others were also said to have created memes to trick voters.
In November 2016, Mackey allegedly tweeted an image depicting an African American woman standing in front of a sign that read “African Americans for [the Candidate].” The image instructed voters to “avoid the line” and vote from home by texting the candidate’s name to 59925. According to The New York Times, following his misinformation campaign, at least 4,900 phone numbers texted the number trying to vote for Hillary Clinton.
“According to the allegations in the complaint, the defendant exploited a social media platform to infringe one of the most basic and sacred rights guaranteed by the Constitution: the right to vote,” explained Nicholas L. McQuaid, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Mackey has been charged with conspiracy to violate rights. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.