Meta (formerly Facebook) claims to have uncovered a major campaign of disinformation and manipulation by the Nicaraguan authorities and the ruling Sandinista party. A complex network of disinformation websites, as well as accounts on Facebook.com, Instagram, Blogspot, Telegram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube, pay homage to President Daniel Ortega and his government and defile the Nicaraguan opposition. It hasn’t been exposed for three and a half years. The country will vote on Sunday.
Unilateral, misleading and false reports are posted on alleged news websites. Then accounts set up for non-existent people in social networks are used to disseminate and comment on these alleged messages. While the opposition is being discredited, support for those in power appears much greater than it actually is. This in turn discourages those who think differently from expressing themselves critically.
Meta has now deleted a total of 1,300 accounts, 140 pages and 24 groups on its Facebook.com and Instagram services. That goes from the October Corporate Report on Inauthentic Behavior emerged. Accordingly, it is one of the best networked government troll farms that Meta has tracked down to date.
Right across the institutions
According to Meta, the disinformation network has several cells: Most of the perpetrators are employees of the telecom and postal regulator TELCOR. They also trained smaller groups of offenders at other Nicaraguan state institutions, including the Supreme Court and social security.
The removed Facebook pages had around 585,000 followers, the deleted groups around 74,500 members, and the closed Instagram accounts around 125,000 followers. According to Meta, the perpetrators did not spend a lot of money on advertising: only 12,000 dollars were raised for paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram.
Sunday, November 7th, is big election day in Nicaragua. After Ortega’s party of Sandinista abolished the term limit for president in 2014, Ortega is running again for the presidential election. Together with him, his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo is running again. The parliament and the 20 elected representatives of the country in the Central American Parliament will also be redefined.