Obviously fake "paid protester" site sets right wing media aflutter

Demand Protest, a service that bills itself as providing "deliver[ing the appearance of rage] at scale while keeping your reputation intact" purportedly pays protesters $2500/month plus $50/hour for left-wing protesters to take to the streets, and claims to have run 48 campaigns, despite having only registered its domain last month (it also displays a copyright notice that spans 2015-2017).

Despite the obvious implausibility and the gaping holes in the site's provenance (nonworking phone number, no record of any corporate registrations, etc), the right wing media has gone fake-news-bananas over this, linking the site to its favored bogeyman, George Soros (who uses granting officers and is generally pretty careful with his political spending).

Elements of the low-information right have a firm conviction that social justice protests are staffed by paid actors (last week, right wing hoaxter/fraudster James O'Keefe was caught trying to manufacture a scandal about this). While there is no evidence that this has ever happened (it is a myth, like voter fraud), we do know that Trump paid actors $50/each to wear Trump tees and carry signs at his campaign launch, and that his most recent press-conference featured paid Trump staffers who cheered his remarks -- unprecedented in US presidential press-conferences.

According to publicly available who.is information, although demandprotest.com attracted virtually no attention until last week, the domain name was registered last month. Despite having no discernible presence until after the election, the website claims to include an endorsement from an “unnamed” 2016 presidential campaign chair, who allegedly called the group’s work “astonishing.” The page also lists a “copyright” of 2015 to 2017 for Demand Protest, LLC., and claims to have been extraordinarily busy in that time, racking up 48 “campaigns” with 1,817 paid “operatives.” Phone contact information leads to a dead-end voicemail box, and the group did not respond to an email.

The story gained traction yesterday, and was picked up by conspiracy website Infowars — where, even then, it was met with some skepticism. (“It’s unclear if the DemandProtest.com website is actually legitimate,” the site’s story says.) Still, other conservative-leaning websites with reputations for inaccuracy have joined in. “BREAKING: Far Left Group Is Paying Activists a Monthly Salary to Stop TRUMP,” the Gateway Pundit blog blared.

This ‘paid protestor’ service is likely fake, but the online conspiracy machine doesn’t care [Colin Lecher/The Verge]

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