Thousands of social media posts and comments supporting President Donald Trump and bashing the Democrats have been linked to conservative youth group Turning Point Action. The group, which is affiliated with YouTuber Charlie Kirk's Turning Point USA, hired teenagers from Arizona to make false claims such as mail-in ballot led to voter fraud and Dr Anthony Fauci should not be trusted, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
The teenagers used their personal social media accounts to make the posts and comments as Turning Point Action instructed them. By doing so, the conservative group evaded moderation put in place by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the Post reported.
After 2016, the tech companies started to aggressively take down spam-like posts — often associated with bots — to curb the spread of online disinformation. Since the posts came from genuine social media accounts, these companies did not take any action.
Robert Jason Noonan, a father of two teenagers, reportedly said Turning Point Action paid his daughters to push "conservative points of view and values" on social media. "The job is theirs until they want to quit or until the election," he said, adding that his daughters have been working with the group since June.
The online attack was mainly on Democratic politicians and news organizations in the form of replies and comments under their posts. The Post's investigation found nearly 4,500 tweets with identical content. This represented only a fraction of the overall output, the report added.
Turning Point USA
YouTuber and conservative activist Charlie Kirk established Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a conservative nonprofit student organization, in June 2012. The group has several affiliated organizations including Turning Point Action and Students for Trump.
According to its website, TPUSA's mission was to "identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote freedom the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government." However, the organization has been marred by allegations of discrimination against minorities in the group. A December 2017 report published in the New Yorker cited former employees who said the organization was a difficult workplace and had racial tensions to an extent.
Who is Charlie Kirk?
Charlie Kirk was reportedly born to conservative parents in Arlington, Illinois. His parents were never involved in politics, unlike Kirk, who in the seventh grade joining the campaign of then-Representative Mark Kirk.
Since founding TPUSA, Kirk became Trump's favourite and was seen at several events hosted the Republican Party. He also spoke at the Republican National Convention last month. In June 2019, USA Today said Kirk had the tendency of overstating things after he said Trump is the "greatest president of our lifetime," and that history will remember the president as the "greatest president ever."