Racist trolls have forced NASA to shut down public voting on a science competition, after they tried to sabotage a group of black girls’ chances of winning.
Bria Snell, India Skinner and Mikayla Sharrieff, of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, in Washington, were proud to have made it through the finals of NASA’s Optimus Prime Spinoff Promotion and Research Challenge – which asked students to create something new to improve everyday life with NASA technology.
The trio decided to focus improving water quality inside public schools and created a filtration system designed to remove chlorine, copper and lead from water fountains, and submitted their idea as a multimedia poster, NBC News reports.
The design impressed the judges so much that Snel, Skinner and Sharrieff were named as one of eight team finalists. As part of the process to choose an overall winner, NASA threw voting open to the public, to allow people to vote for their favorite team.
But a group of online trolls on 4Chan, an online forum notorious for its links with the alt-right, took issue with the fact that a group of talented women of color were in the running to win the prestigious competition and decided to organize an online campaign to destroy their chances.
It is believed the trolls began the attack after seeing a tweet that compared the teens, who are all black, to the Hidden Figures – a movie about the mostly forgotten black women who played a key part at NASA during the space race of the 1960s.