Several Bernie Sanders Facebook groups and pages were deleted from Facebook on Monday night outraging the democratic socialist's supporters. The removals occurred around the same time in what appeared to be a targeted attack, with members questioning whether they came from a Hillary Clinton Super PAC, according to Heavy.com.
The suspicion comes after Shaun King from The Daily News reported that a pro-Clinton PAC, called “Barrier Breakers,” was spending $1 million to troll Bernie supporters on social sites like Instagram, Reddit, Facebook and Twitter.
Bernie Sanders Facebook groups, some with over 50,000 users, were removed from Facebook in what seems to have been a planned out attack on Monday while Sanders was talking at a Town Hall. The groups have now all been reinstated after being down for three hours, between 9 p.m. to midnight on Monday according to US Uncut.
The groups deleted included:
- Bernie Sanders Activists
- Bernie Believers
- Bernie Sanders Is My Hero
- Bernie or Bust
- Bernie Sanders for President
- Bernie Sanders – Ideas Welcome
- Bernie Sanders Revolutionaries
- Bay Area for Bernie
The groups, which had been in existence for nearly a year since they first launched are home to more than a quarter million Bernie Sanders supporters.
It has been confirmed that least some of the attacks originated from a rival Facebook group of Clinton supporters but a Facebook bug may also have played a part. Trolls carried out the attack by posting pornographic images and then reporting the content to Facebook admins. Some Bernie supporters even reported seeing images containing pedophilia, according to Heavy.com.
Erica Libenow, a Sanders supporter and member of one of the pro-Bernie groups, told US Uncut, “We had what looked like a kiddie porn posted in one of our groups today. I reported that one. Seriously made me want to vomit.”
Sanders supporters took to Reddit to post concerns about whether there was a connection to PACs supporting Clinton. And at least one Facebook user who defines as a Hillary supporter, Casey Champagne, bragged about taking down the pages in the pro-Clinton group BROS 4 HILLARY – #GiveEmHill. The pro-Clinton page was briefly taken down, but restored again on Tuesday.
Bros4Hillary issued a statement on their website Tuesday afternoon stating that it acknowledged that a rogue former member of their organization, by the name of Casey Champagne, was at least partly responsible for engaging in the attack on the pro-Sanders group.
Elizabeth Shappell, communications director, of Hillary Clinton Super PAC, Correct the Record also issued a statement over the deletion of the groups in an email to Salon.
“Correct the Record strongly condemns any form of online harassment, vile language, explicit content, or bullying. Barrier Breakers 2016 had nothing to do with this incident, and anyone reporting otherwise is not reporting the truth. Barrier Breakers 2016 is currently engaging in only positive content supporting Hillary Clinton’s campaign to be our next president” Shappell said.