AUSTIN, Texas — Hillary Clinton is taking her battle for the White House to social media, as a new super PAC linked to her campaign prepares to spend big to participate in online flame wars.
Correct the Record will help Clinton’s supporters “push back on online harassment,” according to a statement recently published on the organization’s website. The campaign, which claims to have a budget of over $1 million, will specifically target “attackers on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram.”
Evan Halper, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, suggested the campaign “seems to have been inspired by some of the Internet’s worst instincts.”
“In effect, the effort aims to spend a large sum of money to increase the amount of trolling that already exists online,” he wrote on Tuesday.
Further, the campaign can only exist because of an oversight in campaign finance law. Halper reported:
“Super PACs are typically prohibited from working in tandem with candidates, but Correct the Record is doing just that by exploiting a loophole in campaign finance law that it says permits such coordination with digital campaigns.”
Paul Ryan, deputy executive director of the advocacy group Campaign Legal Center, told Halper, “Clinton, herself, is saying we need campaign finance reform, yet her lawyers are pushing the boundaries to get around campaign finance laws.”
In Correct the Record’s online statement, the PAC said operatives would use “lessons learned from online engagement with ‘Bernie Bros’ during the Democratic Primary” to respond “quickly and forcefully to negative attacks and false narratives.”
A series of aggressive ads that target Donald Trump have been posted on Clinton’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, including one ad that shows a series of Republican statements against Trump suggesting that he’s a “con man” and a “narcissist.”
"President Trump" is a dangerous proposition.
Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio agree.https://t.co/fUkISvgaXC
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 4, 2016
Chris Matyszczyk, CNET’s reporter on online culture, suggested Clinton was adopting Trump’s tactics. “It’s not a pretty picture for Trump and it is, indeed, just the sort of thing he himself would release if he were running against himself,” he wrote of one ad earlier this month.
Clinton is increasingly perceived to be losing control of the election, at least on social media. “The lack of engagement is one of Clinton’s bigger tactical vulnerabilities, particularly when compared with rivals like Donald Trump, whose viral social media attacks are legion, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is backed by a passionate army of media-savvy millennials,” Halper wrote.
Katie Meyer agreed in a Saturday post on Crowdbabble, a social media analytics and measurement blog. Her analysis showed that “[t]he GOP outsider receives more likes, comments, replies, and retweets relative to his number of fans and followers, giving him a high engagement rate.”