|Owner||Omar Rivero and Rafael Rivero|
Occupy Democrats is a United States-based, left-wing media outlet built around a Facebook Group and corresponding website. Established in 2012, it publishes false information, hyperpartisan content, and clickbait. Posts originating from the Occupy Democrats Facebook Group are among the most widely shared political content on Facebook.
Occupy Democrats was established as a Facebook Group in 2012 by Rafael and Omar Rivero, a pair of twin brothers. A corresponding website was later created. Its stated objective is to provide a "counterbalance to the Republican Tea Party".
In a 2017 feature on partisan news, BuzzFeed News analyzed weekly Facebook engagements "since the beginning of 2015 and found that Occupy Democrats on the left and Fox News on the right are the top pages in each political category." The article added that the pages "consistently generate more total engagement than the pages of major media outlets."
Occupy Democrats was named the "Most Influential Progressive Facebook Page" by CrowdTangle in 2015 and by 2017 surpassed 7 million followers. During the year 2017, Occupy Democrats was among the 30 sources most frequently shared on Facebook. In May 2020, almost half of the 40 top-performing videos that mentioned “Trump” on Facebook originated from Occupy Democrats.
In a paper presented at the 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Argha Ray and Joey George concluded that disinformation propagated by Occupy Democrats "has the potential to further deepen the cracks in an already divided society".
2016 U.S presidential election
The organization received wide attention during the 2016 presidential primaries of the Democratic Party, and was credited for having helped build support for Bernie Sanders' candidacy. The site shifted its support to Hillary Clinton, following her nomination as Democratic Party presidential candidate.
2020 U.S. presidential election
According to Rafael Rivero, he was "plugged in" with the Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign and the campaign worked directly with the outlet to disseminate political messaging. In October 2020, Occupy Democrats experienced a significant drop in its reach on Facebook, which Rivero attributed to action taken by Facebook to throttle traffic, a claim Facebook denied.
Occupy Democrats posts memes and content primarily about United States politics. Its content is hyperpartisan, left-oriented and built around clickbait and hyperbole. Comments to posts shared on Occupy Democrats tend to be hallmarked by "greater anger and incivility" than those of mainstream media Facebook pages and groups.
Evaluation by academia
According to the University of Iowa library, Occupy Democrats "has been known to show misleading, fake, or exaggerated partisan content". The Valencia College library includes Occupy Democrats on a list of sources that "cannot usually be accepted at face value and need further verification from other sources to determine if information is credible". In a 2017 poster session developed by the library staff of the University of California at Merced, Occupy Democrats was rated "questionable" for its factual reporting and was noted for not having "a very good fact check record".
Evaluation by media
Occupy Democrats has repeatedly been caught by fact-checking websites for posting "exaggerated or invented news stories." Brooke Binkowski, a managing editor at Snopes, commented that Occupy Democrats' headlines were often "extremely misleading."
According to The Atlantic, Occupy Democrats' posts are "studded with straightforwardly fake news". The Los Angeles Weekly reports that its posts are "free from the constraints of objectivity and, in some cases, facts". A 2016 BuzzFeed News analysis found it was "the least accurate left-wing page" of several Facebook pages it reviewed and cited one instance where it published a satirical story as fact. In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, The New York Times reported that Occupy Democrats "twisted facts to push a critical narrative about Republicans".
In 2017, PolitiFact included Occupy Democrats in its list of fake news websites. In 2017 however, PolitiFact removed Occupy Democrats from its list of fake news sites and, according to the Miami New Times, "admitted Occupy Democrats should never have been on the list in the first place." As of December 2020, PolitiFact classified 62% of 16 posts shared by Occupy Democrats it had evaluated as "not accurate". A further 31% it considered "half-true".
In 2021, a post shared by Occupy Democrats claimed Nikki Haley had changed her first name to sound more "white" in order to further her political career. A fact check column by USA Today reported that Nikki was her legal middle name, she had used it as a given name since childhood, and that it was of ethnic Punjabi origin. The same year, Snopes rated "False" a claim by Occupy Democrats that "Republican Congress members had abjectly failed to applaud Biden’s stated goal of drastically reducing the rate of child poverty in the United States" during that year's State of the Union address.
In a 2017 survey among US readers, Occupy Democrats was voted the "least trusted news source" among American readers, just below Breitbart News and BuzzFeed. In September 2018, the English Wikipedia deprecated Occupy Democrats as a source of fact due to its unreliability. In an October 2018 Simmons Research survey of 38 news organizations, Occupy Democrats was ranked the third-least-trusted news organization by Americans, with InfoWars and The Daily Caller being lower-ranked.
- Shammas, Brittany (September 26, 2017). "Behind the Scenes at Occupy Democrats". Los Angeles Weekly. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
The company is an undisputed leader in a new industry of “hyper-partisan” sites that churn out aggregated, unabashedly partisan news. The sites live and die on Facebook; free from the constraints of objectivity and, in some cases, facts, they're able to play to their audiences' emotions.
- Coppins, McKay (July 2, 2017). "How the Left Lost Its Mind". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
The content plastered across these pages includes standard-issue clickbait (“Trump Just Did Something Awful At His Golf Course”) and hyperbolic headlines (“Queen Elizabeth Just Told Trump To Go F*ck Himself And It Is Perfect”). But these feeds are also studded with straightforwardly fake news.
- Forney, Ben (September 25, 2017). "All the Fake News That's Fit to Print". Asan Institute for Policy Studies. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
Today, partisan Facebook groups such as Occupy Democrats continue to share both real and fake news to their millions of followers, further blurring the line between fact and fiction.
- "Library Sources, Credibility & Finding the Good Stuff: Evaluation and Credibility". uiowa.edu. University of Iowa. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
This comes from Occupy Democrats, which has been know to show misleading, fake, or exaggerated partisan content favoring Democrats.
- "Breitbart, Occupy Democrats among list of alleged fake, misleading news sites to avoid". KING-TV. November 17, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
- Rae, Maria (March 5, 2020). "Hyperpartisan news: Rethinking the media for populist politics". New Media and Society. 23 (5): 1117–1132. doi:10.1177/1461444820910416. S2CID 216172926. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
Occupy Democrats are likewise focused on attacking Trump ... through their clickbait style of reporting, which has been criticised as ‘fake news’.
- Barfar, Arash (December 1, 2019). "Cognitive and affective responses to political disinformation in Facebook". Computers in Human Behavior. 101: 175. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2019.07.026. ISSN 0747-5632. S2CID 199884854 – via Science Direct.
To construct the political disinformation sample, we focused on Facebook posts from ten popular sources that are known for promulgating political disinformation in Facebook...Among the selected hyper-partisan disinformation sources...Addicting Info, AlterNet, Daily KOS, and Occupy Democrats are extreme Liberal.
- Marwick, Alice E. (March 22, 2018). "Why do People Share Fake News? A Sociotechnical Model of Media Effects". The Georgetown Law Technology Review. Georgetown University Law Center. 2 (2): 474–513 – via Gale OneFile.
The term "fake news"...expanded to include hyper-partisan news sites like Breitbart, DailyCaller, and Occupy Democrats...
- LaFrance, Adrienne (December 15, 2020). "Facebook Is a Doomsday Machine". The Atlantic. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
Zuckerberg authorized a tweak to the Facebook algorithm so that high-accuracy news sources such as NPR would receive preferential visibility in people’s feeds, and hyper-partisan pages such as Breitbart News’s and Occupy Democrats’ would be buried...
- Benkler, Yochai (2018). Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics. Oxford University Press. p. 54. ISBN 978-0190923624.
- Horne, Benjamin D.; Dron, William; Khedr, Sara; Adali, Sibel (April 23, 2018). "Assessing the News Landscape: A Multi-Module Toolkit for Evaluating the Credibility of News". ACM Digital Library. Lyon, France: International World Wide Web Conference: 235–238. doi:10.1145/3184558.3186987. ISBN 978-1-4503-5640-4.
- Fabbri, Thomas (December 16, 2020). "US election 2020: The people behind the political memes you share". BBC News. Retrieved November 2, 2020.
- Corasaniti, Nick (May 18, 2020). "How Immigrant Twin Brothers Are Beating Trump's Team on Facebook". New York Times. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
- "Occupy Democrats's file". Politifact. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
- "About Us". Occupy Democrats. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
Founded in late 2012 by Omar and Rafael Rivero, Occupy Democrats is a political organization and news website that provided an online counterbalance to the Republican "Tea Party."
- "Inside The Partisan Political Fight For Your Facebook News Feed". BuzzFeed News. August 8, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- "Most Influential Progressive Facebook Pages of the Year". CrowdTangle Blog. December 31, 2015. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
- Shammas, Brittany (September 26, 2017). "Behind the Scenes at Occupy Democrats, the Left Wing's Answer to Fake News". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
- Ray, Argha (2019). Online Disinformation and the Psychological Bases of Prejudice and Political Conservatism. Proceedings of the 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. p. 2742. hdl:10125/59711. ISBN 978-0-9981331-2-6.
- "Yes, I'd lie to you". The Economist. September 10, 2016. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
- Heilweil, Rebecca (September 22, 2020). "Inside the Biden campaign's surprising influencer strategy". Vox. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
- Thompson, Alex (May 3, 2020). "The Biden campaign faces a mind-boggling challenge: How to make Joe go viral". Politico. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
- Kelly, Makena (September 28, 2020). "The Biden campaign wants to take back YouTube". The Verge. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
- Silverman, Craig (November 3, 2020). "Facebook Cut Traffic To Leading Liberal Pages Just Before The Election". Buzzfeed News. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
- Sturm Wilkerson, Heloisa; Riedl, Martin J.; Whipple, Kelsey N. (April 14, 2021). "Affective Affordances: Exploring Facebook Reactions as Emotional Responses to Hyperpartisan Political News". Digital Journalism. 9 (8): 1040–1061. doi:10.1080/21670811.2021.1899011. ISSN 2167-0811. S2CID 234853464.
In this study, we focus our attention on hyperpartisan news content from the left (e.g. NowThis, Upworthy, The Young Turks, Occupy Democrats)...
- Menn, Joseph (November 5, 2018). "Russia seen adopting new tactics in U.S. election interference efforts". Reuters. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
- "Bias, Fake News, Hoaxes, & Lies". redwoods.libguides.com. College of the Redwoods. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
- Owen, Laura Hazard (August 2, 2019). "Where's the anger on Facebook these days? A lot of it is on far-left sites". Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
- "Fake News: Separating Truth From Fiction: 1. What Is Fake News?". valenciacollege.edu. Valencia College. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- "Elevate Your News Evaluation". UC Merced Library. University California Merced. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Sommer, Will (August 29, 2018). "Bogus Claims About Trump Fill Liker, the Liberal Alternative to Facebook". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 10, 2021.
- Silverman, Craig (October 20, 2016). "Hyperpartisan Facebook Pages Are Publishing False And Misleading Information At An Alarming Rate". Buzzfeed News. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Alba, Davey (October 29, 2020). "Riled Up: Misinformation Stokes Calls for Violence on Election Day". New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Shammas, Brittany (October 2, 2017). "How PolitiFact Got Its "Fake News" Tag Wrong on Occupy Democrats". Miami New Times. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
- "Occupy Democrats". PolitiFact. Poynter Institute. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
- Vercellone, Chiara (May 16, 2021). "Fact check: Nikki Haley didn't 'white-wash' her name. It's Punjabi". USA Today. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
- MacGuill, Dan (May 16, 2021). "Did 'Not a Single Republican' Clap When Biden Mentioned Cutting Child Poverty?". Snopes. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
- Ruddick, Graham (August 9, 2017). "Four UK news sources among top 10 most trusted in US – survey". The Guardian. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
- Cole, Samantha (March 10, 2018). "Wikipedia Bans Right Wing Site Breitbart as a Source for Facts". Vice. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
- Benton, Joshua (October 5, 2018). "Here's how much Americans trust 38 major news organizations (hint: not all that much!)". Nieman Lab. Archived from the original on December 8, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2021.