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ISFED published the second interim report on pre-election monitoring of social media

By Khatia Bzhalava
Tuesday, October 27
International Society For Fair Elections And Democracy (ISFED) presented the second interim report on pre-election monitoring of social media in the context of the 2020 Parliamentary Elections of Georgia. Within the frame of monitoring, which includes the period from September 1, 2020, to October 10, 2020, ISFED analyzed more than 900 Facebook pages and 11 469 Facebook posts. ISFED observed 354 Facebook pages of political parties, 195 pages of majoritarian candidates, and 170 official pages of local self-governments.

ISFED identified pages operating for the following purposes:

- Encouraging public polarization on value issues (69 pages)

- Discrediting the opposition (36 pages)

- Discrediting the ruling party (30 pages)

- False media operating in favor of the government (9pages)

- Supporting opposition parties (18 pages)

Supporting the government (9 pages)

According to a press release published by ISFED, pages, which promote public polarization on value issues, are actively involved in the pre-election campaign in favor of pro-Russian political actors.

The press release reads that political discredit campaigns are conducted intensively by unofficial, anonymous, and fake media pages on Facebook. Within the reporting period, ISFED detected 66 Facebook pages with such characteristics, and 36 of them were directed against opposition parties (except Alliance of Patriots of Georgia), critical media outlets, civil society activists, and non-governmental organizations. The rest, "30 pages worked on discrediting the Georgian Dream," but some cases, their posts served the purpose to discredit opposition parties as well, except for the member parties of Power in Unity ( a political movement in Georgia consisted of 10 opposition parties).

According to the report, mostly, the targets of anti-media Facebook posts are TV channels critically-minded to the government, such as Main Channel, TV Pirveli, and Formula. The Main Channel was discredited mainly for covering the events related to the case of Davit Gareji. The press release reads that accusations were made towards Main Channel for politically motivated selective coverage of the issues.

During the reporting period, ISFED found 9 false media pages on Facebook with pro-government and anti-opposition posts. ISFED detected 7 sponsored posts out of 403 posts published by these media pages.

The report reveals that, during the pre-election period, political actors spent more than $ 320 000 on ads posted by political parties and candidates on Facebook and Instagram.

ISFED’s monitoring of social media mainly includes three basic areas:

- Monitoring the official social media pages of political parties, their leaders, candidates, various public institutes, and municipality bodies.

- Monitoring the anonymous pages/groups/actors operating for political purposes, including the monitoring of political discrediting campaigns, anonymous and fake support, fake media.

- Monitoring of pages/groups which spread misinformation and promote public polarization on community values.