'Release the Kraken,' a catchphrase for unfounded conspiracy theory, trends on Twitter.

November 17, 2020 

A catchphrase winking at an unfounded voter fraud conspiracy in the presidential election trended on Twitter on Tuesday morning as President Trump's allies continued to contest the outcome of the election, which has been called for Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The phrase, "Release the Kraken," appeared on Twitter's trending topics list on Tuesday, collecting nearly 100,000 tweets, pushed mostly by conservatives and far-right internet personalities.

The conspiracy stems from a Fox Business Network appearance last Friday by Sidney Powell, a lawyer for the former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn. During an interview with the host Lou Dobbs, Ms. Powell claimed that the president's team had voluminous evidence that it planned to release to overturn election results in key states.

"We are talking about hundreds of thousands of votes," Ms. Powell said in the interview. "President Trump won this election in a landslide."

Ms. Powell has not yet provided any evidence and did not respond to a request for comment. The New York Times has called election officials in every U.S. state and found no evidence of voter fraud.

At a later point in the interview, Ms. Powell asserted that the voter fraud had been "organized and conducted with the help of Silicon Valley people, the big tech companies, the social media companies and even the media companies."

"I'm going to release the Kraken," Ms. Powell said.

The video gathered steam over the weekend and began to trend on Twitter by Tuesday morning. One video of the television appearance, which was posted to YouTube on Saturday, gained 1.3 million views in four days. The views were driven by over 160,000 likes and shares on Facebook, 81 percent of which happened in private Facebook groups and on users' private feeds according to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned social media analytics tool.

Twitter and Facebook did not immediately comment. YouTube said the video did not violate its guidelines and that it was showing an information panel about election results under the video.

The false narrative has also been promoted by far right personalities with track records of spreading misinformation, such as David J. Harris Jr., who has shared false conspiracies about the coronavirus, and Austen Fletcher, a right-wing internet personality who spread false rumors of voter fraud in Michigan that in reality could be attributed to run-of-the-mill clerical errors.

Mr. Harris did not respond. When asked for comment, Mr. Fletcher said: "Sidney Powell is a brilliant woman... When 'the kraken' is released America will remember who sought the truth and who asked no questions."

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