Facebook has eliminated a network from hundreds of false profiles run by the Nicaraguan government and the ruling party Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) since 2018, a “troll farm” with which the “public discourse should be corrupted or manipulated”. .
Facebook’s parent company, Meta, reported in a statement about the detection and elimination of the network that took place in October and is “one of the hitherto interstate trolling operations” as it “involves multiple states” entities in this activity simultaneously. “
Specifically, the cross-platform campaign was mainly run by staff from the Nicaraguan Telecommunications and Correos Institute (TELCOR), while other “smaller groups of false accounts” were handled by other government institutions such as the Supreme Court, according to the company.
Specifically, the network comprised 37 Facebook accounts, 140 pages, 24 groups and 363 Instagram accounts managed by the government of Daniel Ortega, who wants to be re-elected in the elections of the Central American country this Sunday, November 7th.
The company influenced the “multiplatform” character of the government-run campaign that used a “complex” action on Facebook and Instagram, but also on Tiktok, Twitter, Youtube, Blogspot and even Telegram.
“They published positive content about the government and negative comments about the opposition and used hundreds of false reports to promote these publications,” said Meta, who cited the “troll farm” as an “example” in the matter.
In particular, it has pointed to the “coordinated efforts of operators located in the same place to corrupt or manipulate public discourse through the use of fake accounts and to deceive people as to who is behind them”. “This is different from clickbait content farms for economic reasons, which are not necessarily based on fake accounts but use pages and groups to publish channels to make money,” he explained.
The activity of this network began in April 2018 when the Nicaraguan government cracked down on a wave of nationwide student-led protests. At the beginning, between 2018 2019, the
Cross-platform network that focuses on “discrediting protesters, spreading false information and denouncing anti-government people en masse, but starting in late 2019”
(…) it went from the primary criticism of the opposition and the demonstrators to the large-scale reinforcement of own media brands and pro-government content.
“The campaign appeared to be aimed at flooding Nicaragua’s internet environment with pro-government messages,” he said, noting that the network was targeted by a regionally coordinated internal investigation into suspected inauthentic behavior and a review of reports this activity.
The content and reports were aimed at a national audience and the results have now been shared with industry partners, lawmakers and researchers.
After taking office in 2007, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is aiming for a fourth consecutive term in the November 7 elections. The opposition accuses the Ortega government of silencing all sorts of rivals and critics, as more than 30 politicians, including presidential candidates, business people, activists and journalists, have been arrested since May.