Reporters discover Trump fans on 4chan disrupted Iowa caucus with mass prank calls

New reporting shows that pro-Trump members on a website infamous for being a hotbed of hate speech and manipulation of online polls interfered in the Iowa Caucuses by flooding phone lines in a determined effort to disrupt the reporting of results.

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Last night, Iowa Democratic Party officials said a high volume of distracting calls from Trump supporters disrupted results tabulation. This morning, an NBC team of journalists discovered a link between those calls and the controversial anonymous 4chan message boards.

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An anonymous 4chan user posted the phone number used by the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) to facilitate person-to-person transmission of the voting results from the first presidential preference polling of 2020 this past Monday. While the 4chan call flood wasn’t solely responsible for the breakdown in Iowa results reporting—the primary culprit being a Democratic party tech firm rolled out results reporting app that complelely failed—the Trump supporters’ call flood was timely and simultaneously targeted both the backup and support systems.

Making matters worse, NBC News reports that the 4channers who disrupted Iowa’s caucuses didn’t have to have a mole or a leak from inside the IDP, all they had to do was Google it:

Users on a politics-focused section of the fringe 4chan message board repeatedly posted the phone number for the Iowa Democratic Party, which was found by a simple Google search, both as screenshots and in plain text, alongside instructions.

“‘They have to call in the results now. Very long hold times being reported. Phone line being clogged,’ one user posted at about 11 p.m. ET on Monday, two hours after the caucuses began, reported NBC. ‘Uh oh how unfortunate it would be for a bunch of mischief makers to start clogging the lines,’ responded another anonymous user, sarcastically.”

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The slow-moving vote count in Iowa is an unexpected and unhappy result for Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential nomination.

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NBC News also obtained a copy of the failed app and sent it to independent analysts who characterized it as rushed, incomplete and tough to use, which must place significant blame on what happened to the state Democratic Party. Story continues below:

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Screenshot from MSNBC

While 4chan’s “prank” exacerbated the problems that interrupted the Democratic nominating process, even they prefer to place more blame on the Democratic Party than themselves for targeting and knocking out the key logistical systems that would’ve enabled backup systems to easily tabulate the Iowa caucuses’ results. NBC reports:

Some users on 4chan pushed back against users claiming to spam phone lines on Monday night. One user said he didn’t want other trolls “making us the scapegoat for the DNC.”“I can’t wait for the news headlines saying nefarious trolls ruined the caucus,” another added.

This year’s Iowa caucus has become the second nominating debacle in only the last eight years for the Hawkeye State, and it’s a bipartisan problem.

Republicans owned the previous meltdown, which happened when now-Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) “won” the first in the nation caucuses only for former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) to later be declared the winner but to lose the nomination because the former achieved political liftoff with the early perceived victory.

As of this morning, it is clear that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has won the Iowa caucus popular vote and will emerge tied with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in delegates, while perceived frontrunner Joe Biden plummeted to fourth place.

Original reporting by Tyler Pager and Jennifer Epstein at Bloomberg.

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Grant Stern

Editor at Large

Grant Stern is a columnist for the Washington Press. He's also mortgage broker, writer, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida.

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