#Soros mention network graph on Instagram. Nodes sized by outdegree, 25 Oct 2018

Rumores Sin Fronteras

The Soros rumor ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n: journey of a conspiracy seeded through @replies, comments, and an aliased op-ed to an election-impacting controversy on network television.

Jonathan Albright
7 min readOct 25, 2018


Suggestions returned for term ‘Sºrºs ‘ on Facebook and Twitter, 25 Oct 2018

The ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n

I’ve been watching the developing Central American migrant ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n story. One thing I’ve noticed: the MSM have been so focused on whether there is funny business (i.e., foreign interference) happening around the organizers’ social media accounts that they have overlooked the larger, far more important narrative.

The ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n and its ensuing media coverage—especially the attention given to reporting on its associated rumors—might be the defining theme of the final stretch of the 2018 midterms. It’s a raging controversy that’s guaranteed to activate voter anger and affect turnout.

There’s a particularly dominant narrative that’s quickly solidified. It’s been amplified by MSM headlines, snarky comments, and indirectly by fact checkers. The rumor is: SºRºS is the person who’s funding the ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n; its purpose is to achieve a favorable US election outcome.

It’s puzzling to me why no major news outlets or investigative journalists have done any serious work on where and when the claim originated. Or tried to help the public understand how it creeped into newspaper headlines and search recommendations through social media, other than op-eds and debunking pieces saying: “no, this claim is not true” and “here’s why.

Google autocomplete query, 25 Oct 2018

Long story short, I found some patriot Facebook Groups (one of which is literally administered by a patriot Page) that have been very active in amplifying the ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n controversy. One group has a contributor who’s been seeding SºRºS-⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n rumors all over the platform through individual post comments. Like it’s her…job.

Example of a reply to a post in Facebook Group that spread across the platform, 21 Oct 2018

But you won’t find the most of the profiles where this type of rumor seeding begins through searches or API calls, because it’s happening in closed and semi-closed communities. The ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n narrative has been pushed especially hard this October by red hat fem-avatars within private Facebook Groups.

These findings, however, led me to uncover the posts and pieces of content that kicked off the entire SºRºS-is-funding-the-Central-⟑merican-migrant-⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n and $$$-to-shadow-groups-to-disrupt-the-election narrative.

Making the 🖇

The claims of a direct link between intentional SºRºS funding and the Latin/Central America ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n appeared on March 30th. Of course, this was a different caravan. But it is the origin of the larger theme and keywords. It was amplified in April and May by TheBl⟑ze, WND, along with the usual actors, rage blogs, and sketchy K.⟑.G. cyborg accounts. And by MSN headlines, fact checks, and aggressive left-wing “retort” sites.

Let’s begin from the start. To be clear, I don’t mean all the SºRºS-funding rumors, but specifically the damaging Latin America-related ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n-funding, midterm election impacting one.

SºRºS has been linked to same word in the past on social media, though these posts are referring to the usual paid-protesters-pro-immigration-lib-activists-anything-that-fits-with-$$$ trope. So, they are not in the context of efforts that have been organized outside and are moving towards the United States, aka the border. But some are still relevant and interesting, so I’ve included a few examples:

S.A. ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n: November 2016

Dodge ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n: Throughout 2017

The Latin/Central America-specific ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n “blame-it-on-you-know-who” appeared on Twitter on March 30 in the following tweet. (And no, there is no reference or validation of claim in the linked story)

A handful of ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n references on Twitter appear the last couple days in March; one tweet links to a conspiracy video on YouTube, still up. But the video doesn’t try to make the direct connection between the C.A. ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n, its organizers and purpose, and you-know-who. The tweet also links to a Vo⟑t thread from March 31, which contains comments that do attempt to establish the you-know-who+⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n-funding narrative.

On March 31, another ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n reference is made in the tweet below. It’s odd; not just the suspicious astroturf account, but the voice of the post. It’s likely been translated and re-pasted in, and intentionally formatted to look bizarre. This one links to Buzzfeed. (again, which makes no direct link)

The same afternoon, a seemingly random reply to a Lou D0bbs tweet appears, cc “@ ing” reporter S⟑r⟑C⟑rterDC. “Hey friends, just your friendly interested citizen here…wondering if we should investigate this!”

By April 2nd, the SºRºS-is-$$$-the-Central-America-⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n narrative starts to pick up. A Disney-themed astroturfer seeder account tweets a link to the first piece of published content, posted earlier that day, that makes the direct ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n connection.

It’s an…op-ed. But interesting, there was another tweet to this piece: the first link. It’s one that you won’t find on Twitter or thru an API, because the account has been suspended and removed by Twitter.

The removed Twitter account’s screen name: “C0urt∈y T.” It links to a whole new world of M4g4 political prop and K.⟑.G astroturfing cyborg-seeder accounts.

The author’s name listed on the op-ed story (see below)? “C0urtn∈y T⋃bb…”

The April 2 story spread quickly through a number of platforms. Then the claim surfaces in the MSM. This is the point where things start to get interesting.

The Mainstream Leap 📺 🖇

Remember the friendly Twitter reply to Lou D0bbs — the one “@” ing S⟑r⟑C⟑rterDC on March 31? Well, in his self-titled Fox Business television show on April 3, Lou goes there — albeit carefully. See the transcript below:

Interestingly, Lou makes the ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n-$$$-SºRºS connection by answering his own question in a rhetorical statement that 1) identifies the organizing group — in English, followed by his own answer about 2) funding + you-know-who.

More recently, it seems he’s taken to pushing the ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n narrative to the next level:

Twitter poll about ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n and “radical left”, tweeted on 23 Oct 2018

Since April — through MSM coverage, comments, chain “@” replies, and reactive shares with added commentary, the ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n narrative has largely succeeded.

It has even been (famously) repeated by a sitting congressman. The Facebook Groups that were some of the first to share the April 2 ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n op-ed have suddenly resumed their activity:

Resumed activity by Facebook Groups spreading ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n-SºRºS $$$links

Now, in October, only days before the midterm elections, the SºRºS ⊂⟑r⟑v⟑n continues. Its talking points—keywords—reinforced in posts, shares, comments, forums, and DMs. And live-streamed via first-person-worldview political opining sessions.

It spreads through disinformation, as shown in the October 25 tweet below:

It is repeated carefully in snark by television personalities and commentators.

It appears in seemingly non-conspiratorial political Facebook Groups.

It is literally debunked by conservative news outlets with quotes from the vice president.

And, of course, it is crudely pasted all over important social media channels.

Did I mention crudely pasted all over important social media channels?

The legitimization of the narrative happens through attention; it is reinforced in click-seeking MSM headlines and fact-checks through keyword repetition. It is platformless.

There are no barriers for rumors, misinformation, and memes. It’s “Rumors Without Borders.”

Rumores sin fronteras.



Jonathan Albright

Professor/researcher. Award-nominated data journalist. Media, data, & tech frmly #columbiajournalism #towcenter #berkmanklein #elonuniversity