A conservative website is using a network of pro-Trump Facebook groups and pages to pump out articles riddled with conspiracy theories and misinformation leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
On October 4, The Guardian published an investigation into a network of conservative websites “owned and operated by Dino Porrazzo Sr and Dino Porrazzo Jr,” including American Freedom Fighters (AFF) and Right Wing Tribune. According to The Guardian, the Porrazzos own AFF Media Inc. and run a “dizzying array of interconnected sites and social media pages” which “enthusiastically promote Trump, and far right anti-government militias like the Three Percenters, and offer distorted versions of current events.”
The Guardian also notes that the Porrazzo-run Facebook page “Prepare to Take America Back” was used to push AFF and Right Wing Tribune articles. A Media Matters investigation found two more groups that are being used to pump out their fringe articles and three additional pages explicitly associated with Dino Porrazzo Jr. operating as part of this network. The investigation also revealed that, while not clearly connected to Porrazzo himself, other public groups on Facebook, including Trump 2020-2024-2028 and Sarah Sanders Fox News Fans are being used to push out Right Wing Tribune content. (Media Matters found nearly 100 posts in Sarah Sanders Fox News Fans in September that linked to Right Wing Tribune, but have since been removed.)
Here are the Facebook pages and groups Media Matters identified:
Facebook group: President Donald J. Trump Supporters
- Date established: October 15, 2016, by Dino Porrazzo
- Members: 84,609
- Administrators include: Dino Porrazzo
- President Donald J. Trump Supporters had 1,035 posts in the last three months, earning 980,000 total interactions; 845 of these posts (82%) linked to Right Wing Tribune and earned at least 544,000 combined interactions.
Facebook group: Nation in Distress MAGA
- Date established: May 26, 2018, by Dino Porrazzo, The ALCON Report, and Huny Badger
- Members: 3,059
- Administrators include: Huny Badger, Dino Porrazzo, and The ALCON Report. (The website Rightwingtribune.com is listed in the group’s “About” page description.)
- Nation in Distress MAGA had 140 posts in the last three months, earning over 8,000 interactions combined. During that time, 63 of these posts (45%) linked to Right Wing Tribune and earned over 3,000 interactions in total.
Facebook page: Dino Porrazzo
- Date established: October 25, 2019
- Page likes: 673
- AFF MEDIA INC. is listed as the page owner
- Dino Porrazzo has made 424 posts in the last three months and earned over 2,800 combined interactions. All but one of those posts linked to Right Wing Tribune.
Facebook page: The ALCON Report
- Date established: November 10, 2018
- Page likes: 13
- No page owner is listed
- The page has no recent posts, but is listed as an administrator/moderator of the Porrazzo network group Nation in Distress MAGA.
Facebook page: Huny Badger
- Date established: June 2, 2016
- Page likes: 6,963
- No page owner is listed
- The page’s contact information links to rightwingtribune.com, and the page frequently shares articles from the website. Post and interaction data for this Facebook page is unavailable.
Misinformation case study: Right Wing Tribune
This spiderweb of Porrazzo-associated groups and pages mimics how an article might gain authentic engagements or popularity on Facebook as it is shared on the platform. But in reality, this network serves as a mechanism to pump out and artificially inflate engagement numbers of Right Wing Tribune content.
On October 1, Porrazzo posted an article to Right Wing Tribune about a book signing by CNN’s Jim Acosta. Porrazzo’s post was largely copied from conservative clickbait outlet BizPac Review and claimed, based on a tweet Acosta shared during his book signing, that “no one showed up.” The post was shared first on Facebook by an administrator to the group Trump 2020-2024-2028, where it received 41 reactions, 14 comments, and 8 shares. A little over an hour later, Porrazzo shared the post to his Facebook page, where it received 5 reactions, 2 comments, and 2 shares.
That same day, Porrazzo posted an article to Right Wing Tribune -- largely sourced from the fringe outlet Gateway Pundit -- that accused former first lady Michelle Obama of being a “Trotskyite” and giving a “dog whistle” call to revolutionary violence during her virtual 2020 commencement speech for graduating high school and college students. Porrazzo shared the post to his Facebook page on October 1, earning 2 reactions and 3 comments. The post earned just over 4,000 total interactions on Facebook.
On September 2, Porrazzo posted a Right Wing Tribune article criticizing the media for characterizing the majority of the protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as peaceful before praising Attorney General Bill Barr’s pledge to hold protesters accountable for “mob violence.” That same day, Porrazzo shared the post to his Facebook page where it earned 13 reactions, 2 comments, and 2 shares. Two days later, the post was shared to Trump 2020-2024-2028 by the group’s administrator and received 88 reactions, 20 comments, and 50 shares. The Right Wing Tribune article received a total of 15,686 interactions on Facebook.