Several pro-Bernie Sanders Facebook groups were suddenly shut down on Monday night in what appears to have been a coordinated attack by pro-Hillary Clinton internet trolls. The online users reportedly posted pornography on the pages of at least seven Facebook groups and then reported them to Facebook, resulting in Facebook shutting down the pages for community page violations.
Several notable pages, counting a quarter million followers total, were taken down during last night’s shutdowns, according to Heavy.com. Sanders supporter Laurie Allee tweeted a list of all of them.
Guess a $million buys a few decent hackers. Here are Bernie Sanders Facebook pages that have disappeared so far: pic.twitter.com/4qCQ8QkbHK
— laurie allee (@laurieallee) April 26, 2016
The pages were all reinstated by midnight, according to The Hill. But the page shut downs raised questions about the power of reporting pages to Facebook, who in turn uses an automated system to shut down pages once a certain number of complaints come in. During the downtime, Sanders supporters were advised to continue coordinating on the Sanders for President subreddit, where it was suggested that a Facebook bug may have been partly to blame for the page shutdowns.
Nevertheless, Twitter users found at least one instance of a Clinton supporter openly boasting that he had helped shut down one of the Sanders support groups.
— Kristina Rodriguez (@MissyKrissy412) April 26, 2016
The user, Casey Champagne, has since deleted his account, perhaps to hide the trail of digital bread crumbs that led the tweet above. But a statement published by the group “Bros 4 Hillary,” acknowledged that Champagne played a part in the shut downs and was kicked out of the group as a result.
“Last night, a former member by the name of Casey Champagne decided to engage in harassing behavior toward Facebook groups of Bernie Sanders and posted about it in the B4H Facebook group,” it read. “[T]his was not promoted or supported by the leadership of B4H, nor were we immediately aware of this conduct. We removed the offending posts and member as soon as possible.”