Hate Clicking

Welcome to the Resistance!

A few days ago, in a comment to this blog, Norris Lineweaver posted a link to an article from Medium, describing “hate clicking”--a mechanism employed primarily (at least, so far) by young, technically-savvy people, but available to everyone who has a computer. It falls into a category that Pew calls “digital disruption.”

The rest of the country got a hint of the possibilities when young people used their social media skills to artificially inflate the Trump campaign’s count of registrations for the Tulsa rally. The campaign flaunted the phony numbers, boasting that it reflected the President’s popularity–and vastly increasing media attention to the actual, pathetic turnout.

The article notes the Trump campaign’s expensive, aggressive online presence, and its enormous number of  paid online advertisements. It also points out that these ads aren’t really about soliciting votes; they are intended to generate data that can then be used for purposes of fundraising and merchandise sales. And as the author also reminds us, industry practice is generally to charge by the click. Each time an ad is clicked it costs the advertiser anywhere from a few pennies to a few dollars.

Here is where you come in. Every day (and up to a couple times a day) Google “Trump” or “Trump Store” or “MAGA Hat” or something similar and then click on the ad links. Look for the ones that say “Ad” next to them, those are the ones they are paying for.

If thousands of us do this a few times a day it will increase the campaign’s online ad spend while producing nothing of value for them. It is probably not helpful to refresh and click again more than a handful of times per day because online advertising platforms often filter out repetitive frequent clicks from the same computers and don’t bill for them.

The article then goes into considerable detail about the most effective ways to click and distort the data being gathered, while costing the campaign extra money.

There you have it. Easy peasy. As someone who’s spent a few days doing this, I can say that it feels good to throw a wrench in Trump’s historic investment in digital advertising. Yes, it does mean looking at it a bit more than I’d like, but the fact that it’s costing them money — that holy grail of human virtue from Trump’s point of view — makes it worthwhile.

The author cautions that this tactic is not intended to take the place of the other important ways to get involved in the upcoming election. He does not recommend “hate clicking” as a replacement for phone banking, voter registration, or donating money–as he says, It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.

But for those of us who feel angry and powerless when we read about Trump’s interminable assaults on competent government and the rule of law, the prospect of using the “down time” required by the pandemic to actually do something is a gift.

I still remember when–back at the dawn of the Internet Age–many of us thought the World Wide Web would improve democratic (small-d) participation. We failed to anticipate the extent to which this new medium would disseminate hate, misinformation and propaganda, and actually set back the cause of thoughtful democratic deliberation.

It has been very demoralizing.

This report on “hate clicking”–in addition to offering a tool for political action that I hadn’t previously considered–offers something else: a suggestion that, as the medium matures (along with a generation for which its possibilities are intuitive), it may fulfill at least part of that original promise.

For good or ill, it may increase participation.


  1. Sheila writes, “We failed to anticipate the extent to which this new medium would disseminate hate, misinformation and propaganda, and actually set back the cause of thoughtful democratic deliberation.”

    The internet and the dark web has done more to inform global citizens than any “media source” before its advent. The younger generations have a world of information at their fingertips and use it wisely.

    Hate and propaganda have always been in this country – we have Sinclair and Fox News, which owns T.V. stations across the U.S., and Imus and Rush had access to airwaves via the radio. Don’t forget, roughly 33% of voting Americans cast a ballot for Trump and approve of his administration no matter what they do. This speaks volumes to our propaganda media. Seeing them on social media is exceptionally enlightening.

    I’m not sure about “hate-clicks” since it also boosts traffic to his campaign websites, giving even more priority in Google rankings, etc. There may be unintended consequences by clicking on Trump’s assets.

    Democratic participation will increase once we see our political class represents the working classes in the USA. As long as our capitalist system of economics controls the political class, participation in elections and interest in our government will continue to decline.

    For instance, Kamala Harris isn’t exactly a gift to progressives. I’m not sure why Biden required such a lengthy deliberation on choosing a V.P. when he went with another centrist democrat whose track record against jailing people of color is so horrendous. It makes you wonder if this strategy will fall flat with progressives and people of color, two demographics needed by the DNC to win elections.

    I guess the DNC is relying on the #NeverTrump and the faux #Resistance crowd to lead them to victory. Party loyalists better show up en masse, or Trump gets another four years to wreak havoc on the world.

  2. Before you do, adjust your browser settings to block all cookies and send do not track requests, and maybe use DuckDuckGo or other secure browser. Not only will the clicks cost them money, but you’ll minimize the data they can collect.

  3. I’m somehow on the Trump campaign’s mailing list. Early on their solicitations came with pre-paid envelopes. I would write “hopes and prayers” on the donation form and send it back. Somewhere along the line they stopped the pre-paid envelopes. I wonder if enough others were doing the same thing?

  4. I certainly hope that, even in these down times, we all have something better to do than sit and click. Costing them money is a good thing, but we need to cost them an election.

  5. I asked my daughter the online journalist about this technique. Not for the faint of heart: I don’t think I could stand the deluge of 45 ads in my FB feed!

  6. I get Trump mailings frequently. They tell me how important I am to them; in fact I am one of their favored few who can get some certificate of honor or invitation to a function by contributing $75 on up to their campaign within the hour or by midnight. Lately, the offer is to get Sean Hannity’s latest book by making a contribution. I never reply, which on one occasion led to a message came from Don Jr. asking why are you ignoring my father? The temptation to tell him is strong, but there is some entertainment value in receiving these missives, so I will wait till November 3rd. The greed of the Trump campaign is palpable. To be fair, I get a lot more requests for financial support from Democrat campaigns, but they only ask for a minimum $3. I have donated to two of those campaigns, for Mark Kelley in Arizona and Amy McGrath in Kentucky. These are two races that I consider to be crucial. Am thinking about the “fire Lindsay Graham” campaign in South Carolina as well. Biden and Kamala Harris can wipe the floor with Trump and Mike Pence. As part of that, L
    let’s get some nasty nicknames for those two, because we know that will be one of their strategies. No more high road stuff.

  7. Ive gotten such a ,i dont exist from R ,sen hoven in nodak, i just send the stories of trumps and his boss mcconnels without a dear anytthing.. just so his staff could enjoy the distruction of our democracy as his band plays on… i sent Chris Hedges latest… that should make his day in the senate.. maybe some fact shaming is due to every senator..even Schumer.. im on site today with the people im working with,in my new Biden T shirt… so far so good, no rocks thrown at me…and the company im contracted with hasnt barred my deliveries…
    evict covid45…

  8. being i dont face or twit ,tube,music,(gee im boring eh?) and browse in bing,and keep it to journalism, and daily parts i need,i dump the cookies every closure,and never use g mail or google, and ive never darken amazons doorway for any reason, my junk mail is far and few..but im sure the fbi is probably wondering about my left wing views…i belong to no org, but give to the ACLU$ and a few direct contributions to select people running on progressive circuts.. unfortuntly,it goes thru blue,and im miffed why i cant just go direct..otherwise,i unsubscribe immediatly after the first

  9. To Peggy Hannon:
    The point of clicking isn’t just to cost them money. The effect will be to shorten their reach.

    Don’t forget, a lack of money was the reason Kamala Harris had to drop out of the presidential race. Trump won’t drop out, of course, the RNC’s pockets are far too deep to make that a possibility. But, if each ad costs an inordinate amount to run, they won’t be able to run as many of them. And THAT is the point.

    And to David Stocum:
    Here’s a thought — run Mike Pence’ recent quote that, “Life is winning in America” [in reference to making abortion so difficult that the incidences of it are dropping] next to pics of doctors frantically working over covid patients, refrigerated trucks lined up outside hospitals, etc.

  10. I’ve done a bit of this while sitting on Zoom sessions and will step it up! But an important distinction must be made between the World Wide Web, which WAS designed to be neutral and democratic and the modern and dominant social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and a few others like Reddit, and that is the latter are for-profit enterprises that all maximize revenue by AMPLIFYING user posts that first attract organic interest onto MILLIONS of other users’ feeds. It just so happens that many if not most of these are of a controversial nature, specifically hate-speech, misinformation and conspiracy theories.

    I have NO FAITH that our democratic republic will survive as long as these platforms are allowed
    to operate as they currently do in our country under the false cover of freedom of speech. The laws that shield them from legal liability for their business practices must be repealed and they must be regulated as media companies, even if they don’t manufacture the content. Like the pandemic we’re the last country in the G7 to deal with this and most of them are liberal democracies.

  11. My choice, Kamela Harris, made the cut!

    Open letter to Mike Pence.

    C’mon out of the dreary places, pastor Pence, and say adios to the vice presidency and Trump.
    You had your chance and muffed it by tacitly backing the inane if not insane occupant of the White House.
    You had a shot at fame if you had stiffened your sinews; instead, you fell on your knees.
    Part the medieval cobwebs; make way for the new day dawning. Repent! Your salvation is at hand.
    Join the throng to emasculate Trumpism.

  12. To Patrick @9:23am
    I don’t do social media but I can’t get along without YouTube for music, drama, wildlife, politics and more; wonder why you lump YouTube in with the others on your list.

  13. LOL, Hate Clicking the Clickbait!

    Considering the amount of Russian troll pro Trump clickbait out there right now, it kind of feels good to stick your finger in the eye of Vladimir Putin some, LOL, boom shakalaka ✊?? I think I’ll make sure I tweet this thread out, and repost it on my Facebook!

  14. I imagine that the choice for VP was one of the most thought out decisions of the, so far anyway, very effective Biden campaign. There are so many essential considerations beyond do I like her. I feel that one of the big influences in the process came from Biden’s Presidential mentor, his friend Barack, who also made a splendid choice when it was his turn.

    First and foremost is, can he/she accomplish things essential for this administration in the government we have, not the one of anyone’s dreams? This administration will be absolutely swamped with things to fix instead of the highly functional well oiled machine that Trump inherited.

    Second, which is also more important to this campaign than previous ones, can he/she be a very effective President.

    Third is will she contribute to the campaign both in terms of votes and the dollars that we have tolerated being a critical resource now in politics?

    It’s become a very popular entertainment fed sport to bash the DNC for not anticipating Putin’s preferences more effectively but it’s one that I don’t participate in because to me their main “fault” is not lying as often as Republicans and I refuse to hold that as a fault.

  15. LOL, I just took a look at Trump gear! Just Google Trump gear and a coffee mug will cost you thirty bucks! I filled up my shopping cart with hundreds of dollars worth of trump gear, because they don’t ask your name unless you go to the checkout. so my shopping cart is setting there chocked-full of trump gear hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth. Feels good! The only thing they asked, was if I am employed, I said I’m a student, and that’s it! A student of shenanigans, LOL!

  16. To OMG at 10:57am. All of the platforms mentioned have their good side and I have enjoyed using most all of them, and especially the YouTube channels for music. But the platform is also used to recruit QAnon advocates and Google, which owns YouTube, is just as guilty as any platform using their AI algorithms to spread hate, misinformation, lies and conspiracy theories For profit as any other.

  17. And all I had hoped for is that Norris Lineweaver would finally spell Sheila’s first name correctly. Sheesh! Perhaps I was asking too much. After three attempts to explain how easy it is to spell S-H-E-I-L-A, I bailed out and will now focus on the election of Biden and Harris! Happy days will indeed be here again if we vote blue at the polls or by mail if the USPS hasn’t been trashed by DJT before Election Day.

  18. If you are into this, I suggest grabbing a different email address to collect the spam – then you never have to look through it

    As a comparative aside, a major IT company (now my employer) keeps the details of every person a headhunter brings them – the headhunters kept asking me to use a different email so that I wouldn’t be in the system and they would get paid for bringing me – I collected 5 or 6 yahoo accounts – I haven’t figured out how to delete them, so they sit there, possibly collecting spam (with their own passwords, so I don’t care if yahoo gets hacked). I could use them for “hate clicking”, but between work and trying to get some people elected, I’ll bypass this one — but keep in mind

  19. There is a part of me that is appalled at the possibility of fucking with 45 as he would do to us. Those that choose this path, go forth and click away. I can not. I hate that my anger rises to this level and wants to cause him to to piss all over himself because of his actions. Cohen’s book should be read to every single 45 supporter. Now that is something I will do. I used to tell people I did not hate 45, I was lying. He is a racist pig but I am not going to get in the pigpen and role around with him.

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