Perhaps the most successful conservative pro-Trump Facebook site to emerge from the 2016 election was the half million-member page called “The Deplorables”. It was destroyed last week by the actions of one of its founders. Dan Schwartz, a founder and chief administrator of the site, secretly sold it to Macedonian ‘shit posters,’ in Mr. Schwartz’s words, for the relative pittance of $15,000.
Ironically, at the top of The Deplorables page, there is a warning about not posting ‘fake news’ from Macedonian scammers, as happened frequently during the 2016 election cycle. Now the entire page is ‘owned’ by fake news purveyors, who no longer allow members to post articles.
“The Deplorables,” whose membership has consistently hovered around 460,000, sprang up in the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s remark to an LGBT audience, on September 9th, 2016, that half of Trump voters were “a basket of deplorables.”
At a barbeque for a handful of Trump supporters on September 11, 2016, the idea for a Facebook page with that name was born. Dan Schwartz, an unemployed hearing aid designer, set it up the following week. Within days there were 100K members. By election day there were an unheard of 450,000 active participants on the site.
In the succeeding 18 months, the site has been an organic community of half a million authentic, conservative members, who supported their favorite news sites, magazines and other think tanks by posting links to share with fellow members. An article could get 20,000 likes in two days – creating value for writers and websites.
In a Facebook messenger post to fellow founders on Sunday, Mr. Schwartz boasted about his action: “Fellow Deplorables, I have some great news: I sold The Deplorables, and the $15 grand is in the bank! As Donald Trump would say, “you don’t fall in love with an asset.” … Basically the buyer is a Macedonian shitposter from Veles, who set the group to admin-only posting; and he removed the other admins. I left the group, and I recommend that you leave, too.”
In a series of online conversations, the original members of the group expressed dismay that Mr. Schwartz had betrayed the trust of the 460,000 current members by handing over their information on Facebook to Eastern European professional scammers – thereby turning the site into the Fake News that liberals have long alleged it to be and conservatives have long railed against.
The action has been reported to Facebook through online channels, but it is not yet known how the company will respond. How this instance of an admin ‘selling’ a FB page to Eastern European scammers, of the sort who distort political news, is yet unknown. Mr. Schwartz noted, in multiple texts, that he had gotten away with ‘selling the Brooklyn Bridge.’
Members of the group were astounded that Schwartz sold the asset for a fraction of its estimated value. Consultants have estimated that the group information is worth a minimum of fifty cents per name.
“Desperation begets perfidy,” said one angry founding member.