ISFED Presents Second Interim Report on Pre-Election Social Media

On October 26, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), a local watchdog, presented its second interim report on pre-election social media monitoring. 

The report covers a period from September 1 to October 10, analyzing more than 900 Facebook pages and 11,469 posts by political parties’ and candidates’ official pages, supporters’ pages and groups, as well as fake news pages and anonymous pages aimed at discrediting political parties.

ISFED says 69 pages tried polarizing the public on key issues in favor of pro-Russian political actors such as Alliance of Patriots, Georgian March, Georgian Idea, Didube-Chugureti majoritarian candidate Dimitri Lortkipanidze, as well as Gldani majoritarian hopeful Zviad Tomaradze.  

According to the report, 36 anonymous pages discredited the opposition, as well as critical media outlets, civic activists and CSOs, while 30 pages targeted the ruling Georgian Dream party and, in some cases, opposition parties that are not part of the UNM’s Strength in Unity bloc. The watchdog says that while the latter pages posted more frequently, the former enjoyed more interaction. 

The report notes that pro-opposition television channels, Formula TV, TV Pirveli and Mtavari Arkhi TV became targets of discrediting messages. However, according to ISFED, pro-ruling Georgian Dream party Imedi TV also came under attack, because of the audio recordings of its director talking to former Maestro TV employees, which the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics recently assessed as interference with the journalists’ editorial independence. 

ISFED identifies nine fake news pages acting in favor of the government and against the opposition. During the reporting period, the pages made a total of 403 posts, of which seven were sponsored. 

Regarding political ads, ISFED says the political parties spent more than USD 320,000 on Facebook and Instagram, on a total of 4,925 ads, most of which were declared accordingly. However, the watchdog reported to Facebook 147 active non-declared political ads on 42 pages, with its response “insufficient” as only 23 of the ads were taken down. 

During the reporting period, the watchdog also identified 184 groups in support of various political parties, including party-affiliated and discrediting groups as well. ISFED also found six public groups that smeared all parties in favor of the Kremlin-friendly party of Alliance of Patriots. 

Also Read:

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)