Comedian John Oliver’s campaign to discredit Federal Communications Commission Chariman Ajit Pai has unleashed a torrent of fake complaints, bot accounts, racist remarks and death threats against the agency head.
The host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” is a leading liberal voice against the Trump administration’s stance on net neutrality, and he has called on his fans to build a “grassroots movement” against Pai and the FCC. But the groundswell of support for Oliver’s call to action includes numerous fake accounts, trolls and bot-generated complaints, according to an analysis obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation and first reported by The Washington Free Beacon.
Of the thousands of complaints sent to the FCC after Pai announced in February that he would roll back the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules, a “significant percentage” weren’t from real people, the analysis showed. The fraudulent nature of so many submissions casts doubt on the legitimacy of the public comments being filed by the net neutrality activists, including Oliver’s movement.
An analysis of the fake complaints cataloged in the memo shows that 1,899 entries have been made under the name “John Oliver” as of Tuesday night. Over 500 were submitted using Pai’s name, as well as 189 from “Donald Trump” and eight from “Obama,” the WFB reported.
False complaints were also submitted under “Spongebob Squarepants,” “Magic Mike Pence,” “Donald Duck” and seven variations on the term “Your Mom.”
In a darker side to the trolling, many of the submissions contained racist remarks or death threats against Pai.
One commenter said, “[F–k] you Ajit Pai for what you’re are trying to do and I hope you die a horrible painful death with no remembrance to your name you cocksucka [sic].”
Other submissions mocked Pai’s Indian heritage and suggested he is a tool of white interests.
“Ajit Pai looks like the lone Indian who rushed an all white bro frat and only got in because they needed someone to clean up after their weekend bender,” said one anonymous commenter, adding: “It’s not racist because I’m Indian and white privilege absolutely exists.”
Oliver, a vocal opponent of the Trump administration’s proposed changes to net neutrality rules, has repeatedly used his platform on “Last Week Tonight” to attack Pai’s position on the issue. In 2014, Oliver called for viewers to flood the FCC website with opposition to net neutrality restrictions, and the site crashed the next day due to “technical difficulties” with its comment system.
During his most recent show on Sunday, Oliver again urged his audience to visit the FCC’s website and voice their objections. The comedian’s website, www.gofccyourself.com, redirects to the FCC site for users to comment on the the net neutrality finding.
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