Group doesn't "like" mixed Facebook messages

No On 16 supporters say they've been financially unable to compete with their opponents. That's why they turned to social media for exposure. Now, they say even that has been impacted and turned against them.

When it comes to Prop 16, it is clear how those in the No On 16 campaign feel.

"Prop 16 is a PG&E power grab and I absolutely hate it," says Ben Zolno.

So why does Ben Zolno's Facebook page show him liking Prop 16? Prop 16 is the ballot measure that would make local governments get a two-thirds majority to buy and sell their own electricity.

Zolno also showed ABC7 a screen grab of an ad he says popped up his friends' Facebook pages, showing the new media producer backing the proposition he spent months fighting.

Christy Michaels, a No On Prop 16 advocate, claims the same thing happened to her.

"It says I like tax payers right to vote and there's my name," says Michaels.

The long-time No On 16 supporter is sure the Yes On 16 campaign is behind this. She thinks they were able to tap into her Facebook information after a friend joined the Yes On 16 site, Michaels claims she suddenly was linked to it herself.

"It spams all of my friends, my friends of friends, all of who are all working on No On 16 and all their connections," says Michaels.

On Thursday, No On 16 advocates filed a formal complaint against their opponents with the attorney general.

"It would strike me as bizarre they would take the time to try to disrupt their opponents' Facebook page," says Corey Cook, Ph.D., from USF.

Cook doubts the Yes On 16 campaign or even Facebook are involved in whatever is going on. In fact, he thinks this social media political fight is par for the course.

"We always here about that story where someone is running for office and their opponents' street sign was placed in front of their house. This is the equivalent of that only in the 21st century," says Cook.

A spokeswoman for the Yes On 16 campaign did not want to go on camera, but sent ABC7 text messages, calling the implications ridiculous and categorizing this as a ludicrous attack.

Facebook, late Thursday night, also responded via e-mail. A spokesperson there, told ABC7 they are investigating the claims and say the individual users may have a virus unique to their computer.

"We're still investigating, but claims of conspiracy between Facebook and the campaign are absurd," a spokesperson said. "Further, the investigation thus far does not support any of the other claims of unauthorized actions taken on the behalf of users."

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