WASHINGTON — A sting of vitriol-laden text messages hit voters’ phones Tuesday night, blasting President Barack Obama with anti-gay attacks and false claims.
In what appeared to be a coordinated campaign of cell phone text mail or text messages, one Virginia voter received one from the address firstname.lastname@example.org that made the inflammatory claim: “Obama supports homosexuality and its radical social agenda. Say No to Obama on Nov 6!”
MIke Madden tweeted one for email@example.com that declared “Re-electing Obama puts Medicare at risk.”
Attorney Pater Saharko tweeted that he got a message from the same address that read: “Obama is using your tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood and abortion. Is that right?”
New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman tweeted that his 13-year-old daughter also got a text. “Obama denies protection to babies who survive abortions. Obama is just wrong,” said the message from firstname.lastname@example.org.
HuffPost’s Sam Stein also got a message, declaring “Seniors cant afford to have 4 more years of Obama budget cuts to Medicare.”
Some of the messages did not seem well-targeted.
Jennifer Cryer tweeted that she got one from email@example.com that said: “Stop Obama from forcing gay marriage on the states. Your vote is your voice.”
Cryer used her voice, and answered back, saying “I’m gay, you fucking douchebags.”
The Federal Communications Commission bans unsolicited text messages, but political operatives use a loophole of sending emails to people’s phones. But phone companies interpret them as text messages, and send them along. They also charge the recipient for the unwanted messages if the receiver does not have a text messaging plan.
The senders were all anonymous. A quick search for one — votegopett — found it was registered in February, with the owner information blocked.
Scott Goodstein, a progressive online strategist with the group Revolution Messaging, said the texts “are coming from an email address.”
“It is not just random cell phone numbers,” Goodstein said. “There is a company out of Northern Virginia that does this.” He said the company data “matches right-leaning voters … It registers a URL and you can’t find out without a court order who owns the URL. And they send emails to your phone number via text messaging.”
Goodstein added: “It costs consumers money. It is disinformation and there is no source as to where it is coming from.”