- The departure of Evo Morales from Bolivia after the coup d’etat coincides with the creation of tens of thousands of Twitter accounts to influence international public opinion
- New accounts are dedicated to increasing the numbers of followers of opposition leaders and driving criticism against Morales, hoax and misinformation
- One of the most widespread comments accuses Morales of drug trafficker and uses as a source a Spanish documentary David Beriain: “It’s false, the documentary doesn’t say that,” explains the journalist himself
The coup d’etat to to remove Evo Morales from the Bolivian government, which ultimately forced him to leave the country, is supported by an image laundering campaign on social networks directed abroad.
Thanks to the data provided by several experts and researchers, tens of thousands of Twitter accounts created in just two weeks (more than 23,000 discharged between 11th and 12th, immediately after Morales’s departure from the capital) that are being used to increase the sense of support for opposition leaders, attack the ex-president and help spread misinformation about him in other countries.
November 11 and 12, 23,900 Twitter accounts are created that nurture Camacho followers community. In just a few days it goes from having 2,000 followers to more than 135,000. It´s a phenomenon similar to what happens in Áñez community , which goes from 8,000 to 168,000, 22,000 of which are registered between 11th and 12th day. Eldiario.es has been able to verify that this figure coincides in the databases of up to four different researchers, both Spanish and Latin American, who are studying the phenomenon of mass creation of Twitter profiles to influence the international conversation about Bolivia.
Strategy: amplification of the messages of emigrated Bolivians and misinformation
Twitter has refused to provide the number of users it has in Bolivia at the request of this medium. Despite this, an army of new accounts appeared out of nowhere attracts attention. More in a country like Bolivia, with 17 million inhabitants and where the use of this social network is not widespread. This Monday, the American media specialized in technology The Verge echoed that something strange was happening and reported that it had detected a network of 4,320 false profiles “spreading confusion” about the situation in the country in both English and Spanish: ” Dear friends, there has been no coup in Bolivia, “was the message detected.
Misinformation researcher Renée DiResta is hesitant about assuming these types of campaigns are automated since it can overshadow real people’s efforts to spread awareness. “Engaging supporters to repost a message is a tactic that many real, legitimate activists use,” she said. “Dismissing real moments out-of-hand as bot activity solely based on the content of the message would be jumping to conclusions.”
But there are good reasons to believe this campaign was promoted by bots, at least on Twitter. Schmidt helped The Verge track down the origins of the movement and said the number of people posting the message, and the types of accounts that picked it up, leave little doubt that it was an automated effort. “My guess is that they used the polarizing events of the election to cause hysteria by pumping this post via a bot network. That is 100% true. This is a bot network. No doubt,” he said. “The real question is who is behind it.”
The US media didn’t offer technical details about the characteristics of those more than 4,300 bots it had located. Yes he did, a day before, Julián Macías, head of networks of Podemos. In an analysis published on Twitter last Sunday, Macías used professional tools to analyze digital communities to show that both Áñez and Camacho had seen their followers become tens of thousands, and then hundreds of thousands, nourishing themselves with newly created accounts.
Para acabar he unido la base de datos de las 51K cuentas falsas nuevas que siguen a Camacho y las 41K de Jeanine. El resultado final son más de 68000 cuentas falsas diferentes. Seguro que son más, pero de momento analizo en vídeo estas cuentas con sus principales características. pic.twitter.com/KEfhwaWjVV
— Julián Macías Tovar (@JulianMaciasT) November 17, 2019
In addition to fattening Áñez and Camacho community , the rookie army created in two weeks has driven up to 14 hashtags (labels on which the conversations on Twitter pivot) critical of Evo Morales and denying the existence of a coup d’etat, a Face lift directed to the outside of Bolivia, not to its own citizens. Their strategy is to artificially increase the impact of users who, despite having very small communities and being outside of Bolivia, have seen how their messages are shared thousands and even tens of thousands of times.