TODAY NICARAGUA – Meta, Facebook’s parent company, announced on Monday that it eliminated from its networks more than a thousand accounts managed by the Nicaraguan government to manipulate the public debate and attack the opposition, one week before the presidential elections.
“This was really a cross-government operation, the troll farm consisted of several groups that were run from multiple different government entities at once,” Global Intelligence Leader for Meta Influence Operations, Ben Nimmo, told AFP during a video conference.
The social media company said the troll farm – a coordinated effort to manipulate public discourse using fake accounts – was intended to amplify pro-government and anti-opposition content. It said it had been active on its platforms since 2018 and was primarily operated by staff of TELCOR, Nicaragua’s telecoms watchdog, working from the postal service headquarters in the capital city of Managua.
The Supreme Court, which has been an Ortega ally, and the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute also ran smaller clusters of fake accounts, Facebook said.
Facebook said it removed 937 Facebook accounts, 140 pages, 24 groups and 363 Instagram accounts as part of the Nicaraguan network.
“This was one of the most cross-government troll operations we’ve disrupted to date, with multiple state entities participating in this activity at once,” Facebook’s investigators said in their report.
– paying the bills –
Facebook said the operation, operated – according to Meta – by the Nicaraguan government or by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), in power since 2007, ran a network of blogs, websites and social media assets across TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and Telegram.
A spokesperson for Alphabet Inc’s Google, which owns YouTube, said the company had terminated 82 YouTube channels and three blogs as part of its ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to Nicaragua.
“These channels had fewer than 1,500 subscribers in total and primarily uploaded spammy content in Spanish about gaming and sports. A small subset uploaded content supportive of President Ortega and the Sandinista party and criticizing the U.S. This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Facebook,” they said.
Nicaragua will hold its presidential election on Sunday, November 7, where dictator Daniel Ortega will seek a fourth consecutive term, while some 40 opponents are in prison or under house arrest, including seven of his possible contenders.