Facebook stops the Nicaraguan government’s fake news operation

New York: Facebook says it has removed a troll farm with more than 1,000 Facebook and Instagram accounts that were said to be run by the Nicaraguan government and the country’s ruling party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front.

The social media company said the troll farm – a coordinated effort to manipulate public discourse using fake accounts – was aimed at reinforcing pro-government and anti-opposition content. It said it had been active on its platforms for five years and was primarily run by staff from TELCOR, Nicaragua’s telecommunications watchdog working from the postal headquarters in the capital Managua.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.Credit:AP

The Supreme Court, which has been an Ortega ally, and Nicaragua’s Social Security Institute also operated smaller clusters of fake accounts, Facebook said.

The Supreme Court and Vice President Rosario Murillo’s office, the spokeswoman for President Daniel Ortega and his government, did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment on the report.

“This was one of the most intergovernmental troll operations we have disrupted to date, with several state entities participating in this activity at once,” Facebook investigators said in their report.

Facebook said it had removed other government-affiliated networks from Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, Thailand and Azerbaijan this year for breaking its rules against so-called coordinated counterfeiting behavior, calling this “a particularly worrying trend”.

The government of President Daniel Ortega has stood out for his refusal to impose measures to stop the new coronavirus for more than two months since the disease was first diagnosed in Nicaragua.

The government of President Daniel Ortega has stood out for his refusal to impose measures to stop the new coronavirus for more than two months since the disease was first diagnosed in Nicaragua. Credit:AP

The company, which last week announced it would start trading as Meta Platforms on December 1, has been under scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators over potential damages to its services, especially after former employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents .

Nicaragua is holding its presidential election on Sunday, which the United States has condemned as a hoax organized by an increasingly authoritarian Ortega.

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