A vocal Bernie Sanders supporter. A Chicagoan with zero followers on Twitter. A dozen registered Republicans. These are some of the digital soldiers Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has recruited in California to boost the former New York mayor’s online profile in preparation for the March 3 Democratic primary.
The Bloomberg 2020 operation is hiring more than 500 people at a rate of $2,500 a month to text friends and post on social media in support of the former New York mayor and billionaire media mogul. These “deputy field organizers,” as the campaign calls them, are focusing their efforts on California and its 415 delegates up for grabs. It has not been picky in choosing messengers.
A look inside the strategy — based on documents reviewed by The Times, interviews with five of these organizers and an examination of the operation’s social media output — shows that many have been using accounts created within the last month for their Twitter posts. At least two had openly posted in support of other candidates. And unlike the high-profile influencers the campaign recently hired to create viral memes, the vast majority of these organizers have modest personal audiences. On Twitter, many have fewer than 20 followers.
Rather than create their own content, organizers often use the exact text, images and links provided to them by the campaign. The result has been a stiff outpouring of tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts with little to no engagement and sometimes half-hearted text messages. Some organizers were so robotic in their tweeting, Twitter suspended their accounts Friday evening after The Times inquired about whether their behavior complied with the platform’s rules on spam and manipulation.
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