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The WalkAway campaign, also styled #WalkAway, is a social media campaign that launched ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections by self-described former liberal Brandon Straka, a hairstylist and actor from New York City, in a video released 29th June 2018 entitled #WalkAway - Brandon Straka, "Why I Left The Democrat Party". The campaign's stated goal was to "encourage others to walk away from the "divisive" left, but also take back the narrative from the "liberal" media about what it means to be a conservative in America." As of November 2018, the video had over 400,000 views on YouTube and 1 million on Facebook. On 27 October 2018, Straka led a march of "a few hundred" supporters of WalkAway along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
The New York Post and Fox News websites both posted favorable coverage of WalkAway in the wake of the Washington rally. President Donald Trump and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, both Republicans, have tweeted messages of support for Straka. Other sources claiming "viral" popularity for the campaign include Breitbart News.
Other news sources have debated the extent to which WalkAway is an example of Astroturfing rather than a genuine grassroots movement. David A. Love of CNN condemned the campaign as "pure propaganda, a psychological operation" and "connected to Kremlin-linked Russian bots". Abby Ohlheiser in The Washington Post claimed "There’s little actual evidence to suggest that #WalkAway represents a mass conversion of millions — or even thousands — of Democrats", and contrasted the broad appeal of true viral videos with the "Conservative Internet viral" nature of the WalkAway video. ThinkProgress characterized the campaign as "a grifting operation," noting efforts by the organizers to sell dinner packages priced in the hundreds of dollars to march attendees.
Slate journalist Mark Joseph Stern accused Straka of presenting stock photographs and claiming they were people who had left the Democratic Party, which were actually royalty-free stock images from Shutterstock. Straka has denied that any such material originated from the WalkAway campaign.
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- #WalkAway Campaign Official YouTube (2018-06-29), #WalkAway - Brandon Straka, "Why I left the Democrat Party", retrieved 2018-11-03
- https://www.facebook.com/aohlheiser. "Analysis | The #WalkAway meme is what happens when everything is viral and nothing matters". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
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- "Donald J. Trump on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
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- Love, David A. "Russian bots are using #WalkAway to try to wound Dems in midterms". CNN. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
- "Pro-Trump #WalkAway March has all the signs of a grifting operation".
- "These people who "walked away from the Democrats" are stock-photo models". Fast Company. 2018-07-24. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
- "FACT CHECK: Did the #WalkAway Campaign Use Stock Photographs for People It Claimed Left the Democratic Party?". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2018-11-03.
- "Just What Was Brandon Straka #WalkingAway From?". Gay City News. Gay City News. 2019-06-30. Archived from the original on 2019-08-13. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
- "Unfiltered: 'The left practices tolerance in the most superficial ways'". Retrieved 2018-11-03.
- Goehner, Larry (2019-03-12). "Liberals, walk away | The Spokesman-Review". www.spokesman.com. The Spokesman-Review. Archived from the original on 2019-08-13. Retrieved 2019-08-13.