Facebook removed 1,000 accounts linked to Sandinistas in Nicaragua

Facebook removed almost 1,000 accounts that were part of an “inauthentic behavior” network linked to the Nicaraguan government that denigrated student protestors and artificially amplified the government and ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front Party. 

Meta, the new name of the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, said in its monthly report released Monday that 140 pages, 24 groups and 363 Instagram accounts were also removed as part of the effort to weed out the inauthentic network.

“In October, we removed one network in Nicaragua targeting domestic audiences in that country. We have shared information about our findings with industry partners, researchers and policymakers,” the company said

The news of the takedown comes just days before Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega runs for a fourth consecutive term in the nation’s Sunday election. The U.S. has blasted the election as a “sham” over Ortega’s banning of opposition parties from participating in the election. 

“The United States views the regime’s latest undemocratic, authoritarian actions — driven by Ortega’s fear of an electoral loss — as the final blow against Nicaragua’s prospects for a free and fair election later this year. That electoral process, including its eventual results, has lost all credibility,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement in August. 

The network’s activity on Facebook’s platforms began in 2018, when the Nicaraguan government repressed student-led protests, according to the report. 

“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,” the report stated. 

Some fake accounts posed as students, while others posed as government supporters and called for “the people” to “take action” against protesters, according to the report. 

The network aimed to denigrate members of the opposition in its early phases and later focused more on “artificially amplifying” praise about the Nicaraguan government and the ruling Sandinista party. 

A portion of the network was found through Facebook’s internal investigation into suspected inauthentic behavior in the region, and another portion was found as a result of reviewing public reporting about some of this activity, according to the report. 

Tags Facebook Facebook Instagram META Nicaragua Social media disinformation

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