New reports suggest that the now-infamous 2020 Iowa Caucus fell prey to a group of internet trolls.
According to a story from NBC News, multiple users on the right-wing message board 4chan posted the number for reporting caucus results in a deliberate attempt to jam the phone lines.
NBC found quotes from 4chan users that make clear their intentions to cause trouble for Iowa Democrats:
“Uh oh how unfortunate it would be for a bunch of mischief makers to start clogging the lines”
Many of the callers explicitly expressed their support for President Trump. Others hung up as soon as they got through, or took the time to trash-talk the Democrats.
What is 4chan?
4chan is an anonymous internet message board with a reputation for attracting the alt-right. Its main political forum brags about being “politically incorrect.”
A study by Vice found that hate speech has grown on 4chan by 40% since 2015, with racial slurs, misogynistic comments, and neo-Nazi propaganda common.
How much trouble did the trolls cause?
According to the communications director of the Iowa Democratic Party, Mandy McClure:
“The unexplained, and at times hostile, calls contributed to the delay in the Iowa Democratic Party’s collection of results.”
Other people manning the phone lines reported similar results. Ken Sagar, part of Iowa’s Democratic Central Committee, also received calls from Trumpians. And although state auditor Rob Sand didn’t answer any callers who were singing praises for Trump, he did receive prank calls and admitted that it was “clear somebody had published the hotline number somewhere.”
There’s no question that they weren’t the only cause of the delayed results, but it’s hard to quantify exactly how much time the trolls wasted.
Luckily, the Iowa Democratic Party says that the integrity of the data received wasn’t compromised at all by the 4chan phone calls.