Welcome to the new United States, where if you criticize a protected politician on the internet, you can have your life ruined and literally end up in prison.
According to the Washington Examiner, that was evidenced this week after a pro-Trump Twitter influencer "Ricky Vaughn" was found guilty after being charged for essentially spreading anti-Hillary Clinton memes in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.
Douglass Mackey, 33, is his real name, and he found out the hard way that sharing criticism of a powerful Democrat can lead to a life-altering situation.
A court found that Mackey's memes were intended to "deprive individuals of their constitutional right to vote."
In the lead-up to the 2016 election, Mackey shared a series of memes that looked like Clinton campaign ads. In the phony ads, he told readers they could vote for Clinton by texting a certain number.
“Avoid the Line. Vote from Home. Text ‘[Candidate’s first name]’ to 59925[.] Vote for [the Candidate] and be a part of history,” text accompanying one meme read. Fine print attached to the meme read, “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by [Candidate] for President 2016," the ads read.
While nearly 5,000 people fell for the fake political ad by texting the number on the ad, it's unclear whether or not they proceeded to vote in person.
Mackey was ultimately accused and charged with voter suppression.
"Today’s verdict proves that the defendant’s fraudulent actions crossed a line into criminality and flatly rejects his cynical attempt to use the constitutional right of free speech as a shield for his scheme to subvert the ballot box and suppress the vote," U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said.
Peace added: "Mackey has been found guilty by a jury of his peers of attempting to deprive individuals from exercising their sacred right to vote for the candidate of their choice in the 2016 Presidential Election."
Andrew Frisch, Mackey's attorney, was optimistic that the verdict would ultimately be overturned.
"This case presents an unusual array of compelling appellate issues. I am optimistic that the conviction will be vacated,"Frisch said.
Many of his supporters, and people who believe the ruling was grossly unfair and outright ridiculous, opined on social media in the wake of the verdict.
Douglass Mackey was just found guilty of a federal crime he was charged with by the DOJ for tweeting the meme on the left during the 2016 election.
The lady on the right has never been arrested for her tweet that also came during the 2016 election. pic.twitter.com/pkCz6h669U
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 31, 2023