For-profit

Occupy Democrats

Media Outlet:

Media Outlet

Formation:

2014

Occupy Democrats is a left-progressive media outlet and activist organization which describes itself as an “online counterbalance to the Republican Tea Party” and claims to be “the largest and most active community of Democratic voters in the world.” [1]

The organization’s content is known for its popularity among left-of-center social media users, its tendency to feature sensational headlines, and its track record of promoting false information as fact. The Atlantic, a leading left-of-center magazine, has compared it to hyper-partisan sources such as the Daily Kos and the Palmer Report, and has called it part of an “alternative media landscape” filled with “polemicists, conspiracists, and outright fabulists.” [2] PolitiFact, a prominent left-of-center fact-checking website, has rated more than one in three Occupy Democrats articles that it has reviewed as “false” and one in four as “pants on fire,” a rating reserved for what PolitiFact considers to be particularly egregious false statements. [3]

Occupy Democrats was founded by brothers Rafael and Omar Rivero, who cite the Occupy Wall Street movement and what they call its “revolutionary energy and ideals” as their inspiration. The Rivero brothers say that their organization aims to work within the Democratic Party and with outside left-of-center groups to help elect further-left Democratic candidates. [4]

Occupy Democrats has two partner organizations: Occupy Democrats Action and the Occupy Democrats Election Fund, which work to help elect Democratic and left-progressive politicians. [5][6]

Political Agenda

Occupy Democrats supports left-of-center economic, social, and election-financing policies. The organization also supports expanding access to abortion, creating a government-run health insurance plan, making public-college tuition taxpayer-funded, and increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. Occcupy Democrats displayed extreme hostility towards the Trump administration, and says that all Republican lawmakers need to be voted out of office “for good.” [7]

In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, Occupy Democrats backed democratic socialist candidate Bernie Sanders until he dropped out of the race, then switched to supporting Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton. In 2020, the organization officially partnered with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, with Rafael Rivero calling himself “plugged in” with the Biden campaign. [8]

Early Development

Omar and Rafael Rivero participated in the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests but decided that the Occupy movement could only succeed by taking over the Democratic Party. Their organization’s name, Occupy Democrats, represents their desire to fuse the far-left activist movement with the more mainstream left-of-center political sphere. The two brothers started a Facebook page, which quickly attracted a large audience and started to generate profit from advertising revenue in 2014. [9]

Online Presence

Occupy Democrats is active on Facebook and Twitter but receives significantly more engagement on Facebook with over 10.1 million followers, compared to just over 72,000 on Twitter. [10][11] The organization’s social media content is known for vague and over-the-top statements such as “Trump just did something awful” and “Queen Elizabeth just told Trump to go f*** himself.” [12] The organization also has an extensive track record of presenting false, misleading, or unverified information as fact: the left-of-center fact-checking site PolitiFact identified incorrect claims about the finances of former President Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), as well as an inaccurate claim that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) “has donated every cent she’s earned from speaking fees to charity.” [13] Claims that former President Barack Obama “has taken less (sic) vacation days than any other president in a generation” and that Senator Cruz received a bribe from the Koch brothers, a pair of influential Republican donors, received a “pants on fire” rating, which PolitiFact considers worse than “false.” [14]

In August 2018, Omar Rivero launched the social media site Liker, though he attempted to conceal his connection to the site. According to the Daily Beast, a left-of-center online magazine, Rivero initially refused to confirm that he was behind Liker, even though public records listed him as its owner. Rivero told the Daily Beast that he was “kind of a public personality” and didn’t “want media attention just yet for political reasons.” The Daily Beast reported that top posts on the site included false or unproven claims about President Trump and other Republican politicians and called it “a hive for false claims about Trump.” The Daily Beast also described Liker as having “an obsessive focus on engagement” due to a feature which ranked users by the total number of “likes” they received. [15]

References

  1.   About Us. Occupy Democrats. Accessed June 30, 2021.

    About Us

    ^

  2.        McKay Coppins. “How the Left Lost Its Mind.” The Atlantic. July 2, 2017. Accessed June 29, 2021. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/liberal-fever-swamps/530736/ ^
  3.             Occupy Democrats. PolitiFact. Accessed June 30, 2021. https://www.politifact.com/personalities/occupy-democrats/ ^
  4.             About Us. Occupy Democrats. Accessed June 30, 2021. https://occupydemocrats.com/about-us/ ^
  5.    About. OD Action. Accessed July 1, 2021. https://odaction.com/about/ ^
  6.        About. Occupy Democrats Election Fund. Accessed July 1, 2021.https://occupydemocratsfund.com/about/ ^
  7.             About Us. Occupy Democrats. Accessed June 30, 2021. https://occupydemocrats.com/about-us/ ^
  8.              Rebeccca Heilweil. “Inside the Biden campaign’s surprising influencer strategy.” Vox. September 22, 2020. Accessed June 30, 2021. https://www.vox.com/recode/21429755/influencers-joe-biden-democrats-pacs-social-media-facebook-instagram-campaign ^
  9.         Brittany Shammas. “Behind The Scenes At Occupy Democrats, The Left Wing’s Answer To Fake News.” LA Weekly. September 26, 2017. Accessed June 30, 2021.

    Behind the Scenes at Occupy Democrats, the Left Wing's Answer to Fake News

    ^

  10.           Occupy Democrats. Facebook. Accessed June 30, 2021 https://www.facebook.com/OccupyDemocrats ^
  11.        Occupy Democrats. Twitter. Accessed June 30, 2021.

    ^

  12.            McKay Coppins. “How the Left Lost Its Mind.” The Atlantic. July 2, 2017. Accessed June 30, 2021. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/liberal-fever-swamps/530736/ ^
  13.             “Latest False Fact-Checks On Occupy Democrats.” PolitiFact. Accessed June 30, 2021. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/list/?category=&ruling=false&speaker=occupy-democrats ^
  14.       Last Pants On Fire! Fact-Checks On Occupy Democrats. PolitiFact. Accessed June 30, 2021. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/list/?category=&ruling=pants-fire&speaker=occupy-democrats ^
  15.   Will Sommer. “Liker, a Facebook Alternative for Liberals, Is Hive of False Claims About Trump.” The Daily Beast. August 29, 2018. Accessed June 30, 2021. https://www.thedailybeast.com/liker-a-facebook-alternative-for-liberals-is-hive-of-false-claims-about-trump ^
  See an error? Let us know!