Speed Reads

disinformation investigation

A fake Facebook page may have cost Roy Moore votes in Alabama's Senate race

What looks like a second "false-flag" operation aimed at disrupting Alabama's 2017 Senate race has been revealed.

Republican Roy Moore's tight 2017 loss to Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is largely attributed to multiple credible allegations of sexual predation, which Moore denied. But a report from The New York Times suggests fake Facebook accounts tying Moore to prohibition could've played a role too.

In 2017's Alabama special election, Moore was was heavily favored to win until credible allegations of Moore's sexual predation against minors surfaced. Thousands of Russian bots appeared to follow Moore during the campaign, creating a national story and eventually elevating the allegations as well. But the bots turned out to actually be a Democrat-led false flag campaign to make Moore seem to have Russian support, a December Times report details.

A second, separate group of Democrats seems to have had the same idea, the Times reported Monday. They reportedly created a Facebook page called "Dry Alabama," which suggested Moore would prohibit alcohol — which it called "the devil's tonic" — in the state. But instead of appealing to prohibitionist conservatives, it was actually supposed to convince pro-alcohol voters to oppose Moore, anonymous sources say. A progressive activist who worked on the project defended it to the Times, saying that if Republicans engage in disinformation, Democrats "have a moral imperative" to do so too.

"It is hard to say for sure that Dry Alabama had no impact" on Jones' narrow 22,000-vote margin of victory, the Times says. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is currently looking into the first reported disinformation campaign.