During the 2016 elections, a Super PAC called “Correct the Record” (CTR for short) stated their goal of seeking out untrue stories and debunking them on social media. Trump supporters, led by Moscow, jumped on this as supposed proof that Clinton had a troll army under her command, but that itself was already untrue.
First, what Shareblue and Correct The Record had in common is opposition to Donald Trump and both are or were headed or influenced in some way by David Brock. That’s where the similarities end.
CTR was founded in 2013 as a Super PAC, and shuttered in 2016. Shareblue was founded as Blue Nation Review in 2013/2014 by Moko Social Media, by Australian CEO Ian Rodwell. Brock bought an 80% stake in the company in 2015.
The two organizations existed at the same time, in different locations, staffed by different people.
Conservatives have enjoyed the help of well documented, well funded, troll and bot armies both domestically and from outside the US, most notably Russia. In an effort to say “both sides do it!” Conservative media declared that CTR was exactly the same thing, despite all evidence to the contrary.
CTR’s mission was to identify deception aimed directly at Clinton and get out ahead of it before it would be accepted as fact. Not with trolls or bots, but with known, named, respected members of traditional and social media. They would contact their network and say “xyz story is breaking, but here are the facts and citations so you can tell everyone the truth.” You know, they were correcting the record.
Trolls and bots are cheap, but real professionals are not. CTR was not a shadowy organization. Their operatives and donors were all publically available. They were proud of their work. OpenSecrets.org lists all their vendors and how much they were paid. When you look them up you’ll find the bulk of the money went to payroll, funraising, and administrative costs, with very little being spent on advertising and media consulting. There wasn’t even room in the budget for the sort of astroturfing alleged by conservatives.
Shareblue likewise has no troll or bot army. They are not a political committee, but a self-proclaimed left wing news outlet. Brock even changed the name from Blue Nation Review to Shareblue so the name would more accurately represent who they are and what they stand for. Not hiding in the shadows, not pretending to be something they aren’t, but proudly saying in very clear terms who and what they are.
Their social media director, Leah McElrath, is not a programmer or genius hacker, but an author. Google her name and you’ll find a long history of human rights, LGBT, and progressive activism. That’s not the sort of resume you’d look for when building a troll/bot army.
Attempts to conflate Correct the Record and Shareblue as one and the same (or the latter being an extension of the former) are patently mistaken at best, willfully deceptive on the face, and more likely a talking point created by outside agencies and propagated by well-meaning but wholly uninformed Americans in the most likely case.