by Damjan Tutarkov
A social media “influencer” faces up to ten years in prison. Prosecutors say he used social media to deprive people of their right to vote. Defenders say he posted the memes as a joke and did not deprive anyone of anything.
A release from the DOJ states that Douglas Mackey, also known as “Ricky Vaughn,” was arrested Wednesday in Florida and has been charged ”with conspiring with others in advance of the 2016 United States Presidential Election to use various social media platforms to disseminate misinformation designed to deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote.”
A criminal complaint filed against Mackey accuses him of conspiring with others “to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages designed to encourage supporters of one of the presidential candidates (the “Candidate”) to “vote” via text message or social media and thus to fail to cast their ballots in a legally valid manner.”
For instance, on November 1, 2016, Mackey posted a meme of an African American woman standing before a “African Americans for” followed by the name of the presidential candidate, and a text that read, “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home.”