On Monday, ahead of the Iowa caucuses, 8chan's largely Donald Trump-supporting /pol/ board got behind the theory that Microsoft —which has donated significantly to Marco Rubio's campaign—was going to use its vote tallying software to rig the caucus for Marco Rubio.
Rubio finished in a strong third Monday night, behind Trump, which /pol/ has taken as confirmation of their theory.
And as most 8chan conspiracies go, this one is built on the thinnest of pretenses, best followed as:
- Marco Rubio and Microsoft's shared support for additional H1-B visas for skilled foreign workers
- Microsoft is (so far) the Rubio campaign's second-largest donor
- Microsoft donated the free vote-tallying software for the Iowa caucuses
Microsoft is perpetrating a large electoral fraud to create an illusory Rubio "surge"
The technology that #MicrosoftRubioFraud believes was rigged was used to help report precinct results to party headquarters.
Following last night's caucus, the hashtag #MicrosoftRubioFraud trended briefly on Twitter in the U.S. The hashtag was primarily supporters airing their frustrations and theories, plus some requisite racism and dubious claims about Rubio's policy positions.
Though there were some exceptions.
Meanwhile, on 8chan, there's a mixture of excitement over the hashtag, anger over what is seen as a fraud successfully perpetrated, and (like everyone else involved with election season) looking toward New Hampshire. Lots of posts are encouraging continued use of #MicrosoftRubioFraud as a way to get the word out. One representative post reads, "I'm spreading it to every single place I can on Twitter… massive exposure happening."
Of course, it doesn't help douse the rage of #MicrosoftRubioFraud conspiracy theorists that Rubio gave a triumphant speech, telling a crowd that "this is the moment they said would never happen." And there's something to be said for the fact that, as Gawker's Alex Pareene put it last night, Rubio managed to win a narrative victory, which "will be endorsed and amplified by much of the political press over the next week."
But that's a systemic problem with the way electoral reporting is done, not a sinister conspiracy.
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org