Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is using his multibillion-dollar fortune to build up a coalition of social-media users in California, less than one month away from Super Tuesday, when 14 states hold nominating contests.
Bloomberg’s campaign confirmed that it's hiring hundreds of workers to post regularly on their social media accounts in support of the candidate and send text messages to their friends about him. The strategy could cost millions of dollars -- and may eventually be deployed nationwide, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.
The campaign is hiring more than 500 “deputy digital organizers” to work 20 to 30 hours a week and receive $2,500 a month, a campaign official said. Those employees are expected to text everyone in their phones’ contacts once a week to promote his candidacy and make daily posts on social media supporting him.
"We are meeting voters everywhere on any platform that they consume their news," Bloomberg's national spokesperson Sabrina Singh told FOX Business. "One of the most effective ways of reaching voters is by activating their friends and network to encourage them to support Mike for president."
Outvote, an app that allows users to send pre-written texts, post campaign materials to social media and send data back to campaigns is helping to organize the effort, the Journal reported. Higher Grounds Lab, a Democratic political group that looks for new techniques for effective campaigning, is funding Outvote, according to its website.
Some of the users being paid to share positive posts about Bloomberg are not identifying them as “sponsored content,” according to the Journal. Tagging a brand or business on social media serves as a type of endorsement and should be disclosed to their audience, according to the Federal Trade Commission. That means a social media user should let followers know if they benefited financially by sharing a particular post.
But the campaign official said the posts are a new form of political organizing, not paid influencer content, and therefore did not have to be tagged as such.
Bloomberg has embraced a number of different strategies since launching his presidential campaign in November and using his vast fortune to finance it. Last week, he began flooding Instagram with memes promoting his 2020 bid.
The 78-year-old billionaire, one of the richest people in the world, has come under criticism for using his massive $60 billion fortune to fund his campaign. Political opponents, including other Democrats and Trump, have accused him of trying to buy the election.
He’s spent close to $400 million on ads, according to Advertising Analytics, a spending feat that’s begun to pay off. Bloomberg surged to third nationally this month, according to an average of polls by RealClearPolitics. He still trails frontrunner Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.