The Parliament’s November 14 decision to vote down the constitutional amendment on transition to fully proportional electoral system from 2020 triggered large-scale protests outside the Parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue. On November 18, the Georgian government used riot police to disperse the peaceful protest rally. Protests resumed outside the Parliament building on November 25 and at dawn on November 26, police again dispersed the protesters using water cannons.
From November 14 through December 3, amid ongoing protests, the Media Development Foundation monitored the activities of Facebook pages and revealed an organized campaign, aimed at discrediting the peaceful rally on Rustaveli Avenue and the opposition, as well as justifying the government’s actions,
which was carried out in a form of sponsored posts.
The monitoring has revealed the following tendencies:
- 69 Facebook pages were involved in the campaign against protests with the majority (41) affiliated with the government, among them 27 pages targeting the government’s opponents; four pages belonging to or supporting the ruling Georgian Dream party; 11 pages of media outlets with pro-government editorial policy, as well as the pages positioning themselves in social networks as media outlets.
- 21 anti-liberal, 3 anti-Western and 3 mixed content pages were involved in the campaign against the rally.
- 25 out of 69 identified pages were created in 2019 and 18 – in 2018.
- Two cases were revealed when a page operating as a media outlet was either administered by a party activist (G the TV), or in the past the page operated using the name of Georgian Dream (საინფორმაციო გვერდი / Information page).
- The monitoring has revealed that an open Facebook page “საინტერესო” (Interesting) is administered by anti-liberal page ““მოვკვდები საქართველოსთვის” (I will die for Georgia); presently the group’s co-admins are deleted troll profiles.
- The government-affiliated pages have a total of 295 admins; the majority of them (30) administer the Facebook page of Kvira.ge, a media outlet with pro-government editorial policy; anti-liberal and anti- Western pages have a total of 82 and 17 admins, respectively.
- One of 15 admins of anti-Western Facebook page “აზიმუტი” (Azimuth) administers the page from the Russian Federation.
- The monitoring has revealed five Facebook pages, which were spreading identical content at short intervals in order to discredit the rally. It means that these pages might be administered by one and the same people. Four of these pages are spreading anti-Liberal content (Pressტიტუცია/Presstitution, 14 ზდეც, Fაქტები and Revelation), and one – anti-Western (Blue Soviet Union / ლურჯი საბჭოთა კავშირი).
- Some cases were revealed when anti-liberal and anti-Western pages targeting the government’s opponents were sharing one and the same content from each other.
- 50 sponsored posts were released against the protest rallies during the monitoring period.
- The following messages were spread as part of the organized campaign:
- The protesters are representatives of LGBT community and they are imposing homosexuality on us;
- The protesters are fighting against the church;
- The rally on Rustaveli Avenue is illegal and represents an attempted revolution;
- The demonstrators have been bribed by the opposition;
- The proportional electoral system is anti-constitutional;
- Sexist messages were spread against female opposition leaders;
- Nino Burjanadze’s visit to Moscow was generalized to the entire opposition spectrum through using fake news and various visual manipulations.
- The dynamics of page activity increased in a period between November 14 and November 25, amid ongoing protests, further decreasing in December; it indicates that the pages intensified their efforts during the anti-government rallies.
Detailed information on sponsored posts