The Results of the Monitoring of Governmental Institutions Strategic Communication Facebook Pages
The Georgian Government Administration actively started establishing strategic communication departments (StratComs) in 2018. The Ministry of Defense is an exception in this case, as it created a similar structural unit of its own back in 2015. Strategic communications structural units currently exist in the Governmental Administration as well as in seven ministries: the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, and the State Ministry for Reconciliation and Civic Equality of Georgia. While performing their activities and achieving goals, strategic communications units represent the ministries. They follow Georgian legislation and legal acts issued by a minister while being accountable to a minister and a handling deputy minister.
This research aims to study the relevance of the StratComs’ activities to the tasks of the strategic communications departments of the government agencies implementing the country‘s foreign and security policy, as well as the activities undertaken in terms of preventing and responding to threats from an enemy state.
The objectives of the research were the study of the regulations of the strategic communication departments of the Government Administration and the ministries of Defense, Foreign, and Internal affairs, as well as the official Facebook pages of StratComs of the government and these three ministries. The Facebook pages‘ monitoring includes the period from the date of their creation to April 30, 2023. CrowdTangle, a social media analysis tool owned by Meta, was used to collect the posts. The tool allows monitoring of the public content and interactions on Facebook pages (as well as groups, verified profiles, and Instagram accounts). This research is based on the analysis of the regulations of the strategic communication departments as well as the monitoring of the Facebook pages. The first part of the research covers the objectives described in the regulations of strategic communication units, while the second part is dedicated to the results of the monitoring of the Facebook pages.
The research period coincided with Meta’s decision, to take down an inauthentic coordinated network linked to the Georgian Government’s Department of Strategic Communications in May 20231. According to Meta‘s report, this network consisted of 80 accounts, 9 groups, 29 pages, and two Instagram accounts. The inauthentic network run by the Government’s StratCom was involved in discrediting the 2023 March rallies and the opposition parties in Georgia. A total of $33,500 was spent on advertising these posts. The Government’s StratCom has not yet commented on the Meta’s decision.
Representatives of non-governmental organizations and the media have drawn attention to the activity of the Government StratComs’s Facebook page prior to that. For example, ISFED reported a covert Facebook information campaign tied to the strategic communications department of the Georgian government back in 2021. The strategic communication departments of Georgian governmental institutions also failed to fulfill their obligation to promote an active vaccination campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic.