MEXICO CITY (AP) – Meta Platforms, the company that runs Facebook, announced Monday it has canceled 937 accounts linked to the Nicaraguan government and the Sandinista party of President Daniel Ortega.
Meta said it also deleted 140 deceptive pages, 24 groups and 363 Instagram accounts for violating company policy against “coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity.”
Meta said this was a classic example of a “troll farm”, which he defined as attempts “to corrupt or manipulate public discourse by using fake accounts to … people in error as to who is behind them “.
The firm said the network of accounts was launched after mass protests against the government in 2018. The accounts were intended to both disparage members of the opposition and praise the government. Some of the accounts were believed to be students from a Nicaraguan university which was the epicenter of the protests.
Nicaragua is due to hold elections on November 7 in which Ortega is seeking a fourth consecutive term. But these elections were made almost moot by the government arrests of critics and seven potential challengers.
From May, Ortega began arresting nearly all public figures who publicly disagreed with him, including those who fought alongside him in the 1979 revolution in the country. The families of 155 political prisoners said in a statement that their relatives had been subjected to “ill-treatment and torture” in prison.
The country’s main opposition coalitions said Ortega’s measures had “put an end to any vestige of genuine electoral competition.”
About 140,000 Nicaraguans have fled their homeland since the government cracked down on widespread protests from 2018.
Meta said the troll farm suppressed in October was operated from the postal service offices, noting that “smaller clusters of fake accounts were managed by other government offices, including the Supreme Court and the Nicaraguan Institute social security “.
“This campaign was multiplatform and intergovernmental,” the company said. “He managed a complex network of media brands on Facebook, Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Blogspot and Telegram, as well as websites linked to these news entities. They posted positive content about the government and negative comments about the opposition, using hundreds of fake accounts to promote these posts.
Ortega says the protests that erupted in April 2018 were an attempted coup with foreign backing. And he had an argument with Roman Catholic bishops who participated as mediators in the first round of short-lived government-opposition dialogue, after which the government cracked down on the protests harshly.
At least 325 people died in clashes that year between civilians and government forces in Nicaragua, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
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