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The stream of racist, sexist, and economically illiterate memes appearing in support of Donald Trump during this years’ interminable American presidential election is being bankrolled in part by the 24-year-old inventor of Oculus Rift.
Palmer Luckey, who came into a personal fortune worth $700 million (£535 million) when his VR headset firm was bought out by Facebook, has admitted to backing an unofficial pro-Trump political non-profit called Nimble America that is powering the tsunami of white supremacist and other racist image macros that have plagued Reddit.
Enlarge / Luckey on the cover of Time in 2015.
According to research by the Daily Beast, Luckey is intimately involved with the group. He has also been active in r/The_Donald, the Reddit community that acts as something of a ground zero for endless election-related memes. Posting with the handle “NimbleRichMan,” the Oculus founder seems to have participated in a brief, now-deleted attempt to raise money from the group, which has fortunately been preserved by the Google cache. Various posts pertaining to the group on Reddit have latterly disappeared, according to the Beast.
In its launch post, Nimble America said it had proved that “shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real,” continuing: “We believe that America has been lead by poor leaders who have abandoned American principles and sold out all Americans. With the right leadership America will reverse its course towards mediocrity and globalism, becoming great again.”
A digital billboard has meanwhile appeared in Pittsburgh for some reason—which the group is claiming marks its first step off the Internet and into meatspace. It features a warped image of Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton’s face with the words “Too Big to Jail.”
It’s unclear how much Luckey has actually put into the group. A financial statement document published on Nimble America’s site shows the group has received just over $10,000 (£7,600) in donations, including one lump sump of $9,800 (£7,500).
“I came into touch with them over Facebook,” Luckey told the Daily Beast. “It went along the lines of ‘hey, I have a bunch of money. I would love to see more of this stuff.’ They wanted to build buzz and do fundraising […] I thought it sounded like a real jolly good time.”
As NimbleRichMan, he wrote: “The American Revolution was funded by wealthy individuals. The same has been true of many movements for freedom in history. You can’t fight the American elite without serious firepower. They will outspend you and destroy you by any and all means.”
The entire account has now been deleted.
Luckey isn’t the only rich tech guy with a bee in his bonnet. The venture capitalist Peter Thiel bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s legal case against Gawker, in response to a 2007 Gawker post outing him as gay.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK