The Hill reports:
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) dominated buzz surrounding the first Democratic presidential debate Thursday night after battling rivals on stage, but as the debate played out, a series of Twitter bots worked to amplify a far-right conspiracy about her online.
During the debate in Miami, apparent bots online amplified conspiracy theories on social media falsely claiming that the California Democrat, who is of Indian and Jamaican descent, is not black and is not a U.S. citizen.
The tweet was retweeted by Donald Trump Jr., who ultimately removed the message from his page. However, Alexander’s tweet was soon copied word for word by a network of bot accounts researcher Josh Russell had previously identified.
The Huffington Post reports:
Meanwhile, the president’s former campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson tried to discredit Harris another way, indicating she is not African enough to run as a minority presidential candidate. She tweeted that “while Obama is actually African-American — Harris is not,” even though people of African descent have lived in Jamaica for centuries.
The attack appeared to be launched by a self-described “black activist” identifying himself as “Ali Alexander” on an unverified Twitter account. He claimed in a video and tweet that Harris cannot represent the black experience in America because she has “no ancestors who suffered American Slavery, the Civil War, nor Jim Crow.”
Alexander is actually a far-right political operative and conspiracy theorist Ali Akbar, or Ali Abdul Razaq Akbar, whom Politico profiled last year as an “increasingly prominent pro-Trump supporter.” On the eve of the 2016 election, Robert Mercer donated $60,000 to a PAC that Alexander advises, Politico reported.
Buzzfeed News reports:
Alexander, who previously went by the name Ali Akbar. He’s a black MAGA-world personality who launched a website for other fringe Trump supporters unable to find a home in more traditional conservative media.
Alexander recently joined Jacob Wohl and Laura Loomer on their trip to Minnesota to make a film about Rep. Ilhan Omar in which they floated conspiracies about her background. Hours after sending his viral tweet, Alexander followed up with a livestream to further explain his claim.
Among the first to falsely claim that her race and parents make her ineligible to run for president after she announced her candidacy was the Daily Stormer, an openly neo-Nazi website. Its founder, Andrew Anglin, claimed that Harris is “not an American” and said she does not belong in the country.
Kamala Harris is *not* an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican.
I’m so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It’s disgusting. Now using it for debate time at #DemDebate2?
These are my people not her people.
— Ali Alexander (@ali) June 28, 2019
A lot of suspect accounts are pushing the “Kamala Harris is not Black” narrative tonight. It’s everywhere and it has all the signs of being a coordinated/artificial operation. #DemDebate2 pic.twitter.com/DTeB2qWJnm
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) June 28, 2019
Kamala Harris is going to get a stern talking to after the debate. Can’t play the race card without going all the way…Obama did choose Biden &none one yelled foul! Obama is actually African American – Kamala Harris is not. Who is best to speak for the AA Community? #DemDebate2
— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) June 28, 2019
Donald Trump Jr thinks he can engage in a grotesque attack on Kamala Harris and then hide. Cyber War Room was watching. pic.twitter.com/O3uaT6b550
— Cyber War Room (@TheCyberWarRoom) June 28, 2019