1-Facebook update says it wiped out the ‘trolls’ farm run by the Nicaraguan government
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Bur Elizabeth Culliford
Nov 1 (Reuters) – Facebook Inc said on Monday that it last month removed a fishing farm with more than 1,000 Facebook and Instagram accounts that it said was run by the Nicaraguan government and the country’s ruling Sandinista Front party. National Liberation.
The social media company said the phishing farm – a coordinated attempt to manipulate public discourse with fake accounts – aims to amplify pro-government and dissident content.
Facebook said the operation had been active on its platforms since 2018 and was primarily managed by personnel from TELCOR, Nicaragua’s communications watchdog, operating out of the postal service’s headquarters in the capital, Managua.
Facebook added that the Supreme Court of Justice, which was an ally of President Daniel Ortega, and the Social Security Institute of Nicaragua also dealt with smaller groups of fake accounts.
The office of Nicaragua’s Vice President, Rosario Murillo, a spokesman for Ortega and his government, and the Supreme Court did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the report.
“This was one of the most intergovernmental phishing operations we have thwarted to date, with multiple government entities participating in this activity simultaneously,” the Facebook researchers said in their report.
This year Facebook said it pulled other government-linked networks from Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, Thailand and Azerbaijan for violating its rules against so-called inauthentic behaviour, calling this a “particularly troubling trend.”
The company, which last week announced it would go public as Meta Platforms on December 1, has come under scrutiny by lawmakers and regulators for potential damages linked to its platform, especially after former employee and whistleblower Frances Hogan leaked internal documents.
Nicaragua will hold its presidential election on Sunday, which Washington has denounced as a farce orchestrated by an increasingly authoritarian Ortega.
Facebook said the operation operated a network of blogs, websites and social media on TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Blogspot and Telegram.
A Google spokesperson, told Alphabet, which owns YouTube, that the company has removed 82 channels from the video page and three blogs as part of its ongoing investigation into coordinated lobbying linked to Nicaragua.
“These channels had less than 1,500 subscribers in total and were uploading fraudulent Spanish-language content mainly about games and sports. A small subset of content that supported President Ortega and the Sandinista Party and was critical of the United States was uploaded, and this campaign was consistent with reports of similar findings. . on Facebook “.
The other companies did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.
Facebook said the activity began in April 2018, when student-led protests against the government erupted.
The social media company added that it had removed 937 Facebook accounts, 140 pages, 24 groups and 363 Instagram accounts as part of the Nicaragua Network. (Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York. Additional reporting by Anna Isabel Martinez and Frank Jack Daniel; Editing in Spanish by Javier Lopez de Llereda)
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