Ocasio-Cortez Deletes Tweet Baselessly Accusing Opponents of Running Twitter Bot Army

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Getty Images
February 22, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) deleted tweets Thursday that accused GOP operatives of running a Twitter bot operation without evidence.

MapLight reporter Andrew Perez noted on Twitter that a billboard put up in Times Square attacking Ocasio-Cortez was paid for by the Job Creators Network, which has also given money to lobbying firm Berman & Co. and GOP political strategy firm Cavalry LLC.

"If you notice a lot more trolls on social media re: politics, it’s bc Mitch McConnell’s former Chief of Staff helps run a multimillion dollar operation to have bot accounts manipulate online discourse," Ocasio-Cortez quote-tweeted.

There's been no independent reporting indicating that Cavalry, the firm founded by former McConnell staffer Josh Holmes, operates a multimillion-dollar Twitter bot army. Cavalry staff responded with derision, tweeting "lmao" and sharing a popular Twitter meme indicating that Ocasio-Cortez was acting conspiratorial.

"Long story short, no, we don’t buy or run bot accounts," Duncan told the Washington Free Beacon. Ocasio-Cortez's office did not respond to a request for clarification.

When questioned on social media about her claim, Ocasio-Cortez pointed to the Perez tweet's use of the term "astroturfing" and argued that, "'Astroturfing' is the term for those kinds of bots and online activity."

"Astroturfing" is political slang for activities that appear to be grassroots, but are actually backed by the establishment. But Perez's original tweet accused Berman of engaging in "astroturfing," not Cavalry. And while "astroturfing" can theoretically include bot accounts, the two are not synonymous as Ocasio-Cortez seemed to believe.

Eventually Ocasio-Cortez deleted her original tweet, saying she wanted to "make sure details are solid."