Network of False Media Pages that Survived the Facebook Takedown
In April 2020, Facebook removed 943 pages, profiles, groups and Instagram accounts engaged in domestic political campaigns in Georgia, for coordinated inauthentic behavior. Among them was a network of false media pages identified by ISFED. The primary tactic of false media pages removed in April was sharing of posts in public and private groups through the use of Facebook profiles working in coordination. Before that, on 20 December 2019, 344 Georgian pages were removed from the platform, due to coordinated inauthentic behavior, including 35 false media pages identified by ISFED. Starting from the 2018 presidential election, false media pages carried out continuous sponsored campaign in favor of the authorities/ruling party and to the disadvantage of their opponents.
Despite two removals of the large-scale inauthentic networks by Facebook, one more network of false media pages continues to operate on Facebook, which unlike the false media pages removed in April, is using sponsoring of Facebook posts in order to target broad audience with selective information. Sponsored content from these pages is visible on newsfeeds of Facebook users whether or not they like or follow these pages. In that sense, the tactic used is similar to that of the false media pages removed in December.
ISFED has found that currently there are five closely connected false media pages, which focus on boosting/sponsoring of posts on Facebook. They are also using other social media platforms and websites. These false media pages became active on Facebook in January 2020 and with altered tactics. However, their primary strategy remains the same: they try to portray themselves as genuine media outlets and engage in sponsored propaganda campaigns under this facade. They create a single coordinated network disseminating content in support of the authorities.
Average number of followers and subscribers of these false media pages is around 5,000, however owing to post sponsoring, their posts have a high user interaction. Half of their posts are sponsored and they account for over 99% of total interactions (sum of reactions, comments and shares) for these pages. Only posts sponsored on the false media pages are those with propaganda purpose and directed toward formation of public opinion. In addition to individual posts, false media pages also sponsor their own Facebook pages.
If in the past, false media pages only existed on Facebook, this time all five false media pages have their own websites that were registered within the same time interval. Websites indicate possibly fake names as authors of articles that they publish. Almost all materials on each of these webpages are published under the same name. ISFED found that materials published on false media Facebook pages and websites are mostly copied from other news agencies, word by word, and without citing the source. Notably, false media pages sometimes disseminate older reports, including in a way that misleads readers into thinking that it is recent information.
In addition to Facebook pages, false media have their own YouTube channels, Twitter pages and Instagram profiles. However, at this stage, presence on other social media platforms has the only function of making the false media pages seem like genuine media outlets on Facebook and other platforms are not used for the purpose of disseminating political propaganda.
The goal of false media pages is to create an illusion of genuine media, disseminate their messages on social media in disguise and influence political opinions of the public. The objective of pages addressed in this report is to provide Facebook users with information in a selective manner, in the form of sponsored posts. False media essentially do not create any information product themselves. Instead, they use news published on genuine media websites. These pages are mostly gathering news that reflect messages of the government, publish them on their websites and disseminate them on Facebook in the form of sponsored posts. In order to create an illusion of media, false media pages also publish non-political content, however those posts are never sponsored.
In their sponsored posts, these false media pages also reacted to removal of the inauthentic networks by Facebook. The sponsored posts highlighted that Facebook removed a network of accounts associated with the opposition party United National Movement but they said nothing about removal of accounts associated with the agency eSPersona, connected to the ruling party. False media pages intentionally omitted this information when copying the material from genuine online media. Amid COVID-19 pandemic, the pages are used for a sponsored campaign in favor of the Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia chairperson, Bidzina Ivanishvili and government leaders, as well as for dissemination of official statements of the ruling party.
Headline on the photo: Facebook blocked pages and accounts associated with the National Movement
Post text: Facebook removed pages associated with the National Movement. The information was published in the company’s new report, which concerns coordinated actions of inauthentic accounts. According to the company, 80 pages, 23 personal accounts, 41 groups and 9 Instagram accounts were removed...
Headline on the photo: Facebook removed 80 pages, 23 personal accounts and 41 groups associated with the National Movement
Post text: In April of this year, Facebook removed hundreds of pages, groups and personal accounts associated with the National Movement, for inauthentic behavior. The information was published in the company’s new report, which concerns coordinated actions by inauthentic accounts...
Headline on the photo: MPs and Ministers from the Georgian Dream will transfer 1/3 of their salary to the COVID fund for the next 3 months
Post text: For the next three months, members of the Georgian Dream in the government and the parliament of Georgia will transfer part of their salaries to the fund for combating coronavirus - a member of the parliamentary majority, Irakli Kobakhidze announced about it.
Headline on the photo: Members of the Government will transfer 1/3 of their salaries to the COVID fund for the next three months.
Post text: Each member of the government and the parliamentary majority will transfer 1/3 of his or her salary to the COVID fund for the next three months.
“In order to express solidarity for our fellow-citizens, based on discussions and consultations within the party, we made a decision that...”
Headline on the photo: Centerpoint.org: the most generous donor - a billionaire who contributed USD 30 million to the fight against COVID.
Post text: “Who is the world’s most generous donor in the fight against COVID?” - centerpoints.org publishes an article about Bidzina Ivanishvili.
The article addresses the money transferred by Bidzina Ivanishvili’s family to StopCov fund and states that the Georgian businessman and...
Headline on the photo: Statement of the Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia press office
Post text: Below is a full statement of the Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia press office:
“Yesterday, a video was posted on Bera Ivanishvili’s TikTok platform, in which...
New False Media Pages
ISFED’s monitoring found that the following five new false media pages were created in January and February 2020: „webmedia.ge“, ”portalnews.ge“, ”pnn.ge“, ”infostudio.ge“ and “Georgian Media”. Notably, some of their names are similar to those of false media pages removed on December 20, 2019 (e.g. before the Facebook cleansing, one of the pages operated under the name “newsportal.ge”).
Similar to the false media pages operating earlier, the new pages are designed it a way that misleads Facebook users into thinking that they are media pages. In addition, they have categorized themselves as “News & Media Websites” on Facebook.
Their About sections indicate phone numbers but the information is fake. ISFED tried contacting these numbers several times but none of them were reachable, which possibly indicates that these numbers are not operational.
As of May 20, these pages were managed by 3-5 administrators. These pages are possibly managed by the same individuals. Notably, number of administrators for these pages changes at the same time. For example, on April 30, when Facebook conducted its operation, the number of administrators for each page was reduced by 1.
Average number of likes and subscribers of the new false media pages is a little over 5,000. However, owing to post sponsoring, their posts have a high user interaction. From the day they were created to May 6, a total of 306,365 reactions, shares and comments have been found on the five false media pages.
From the date of creation to May 20, 2020, a total of 871 posts were published on the false media pages, including 434 posts (49.83%) that were sponsored. The sponsored posts included 425 photos and 9 videos.
Half of the posts published without sponsoring had nearly no interactions from Facebook users. Their total interaction was 0.19%.
Headline on the photo: Georgian Dream: Before the video was posted, Ivanishvili had several meetings for discussion of pressing issues
Post Text: According to the Georgian Dream press office, Bidzina Ivanishvili is actively working - he is actively in touch with the political team, the coordination council and is having meetings intensively. This is how the party responds to political and public reaction to Ivanishvili’s appearance on Tik Tok.
Headline on the photo: Giga Bokeria confessed that Marneuli rally has been organized by them. This is a crime, they need to stop playing with fire.
Post Text: A member of the parliamentary majority, Irakli Kobakhidze says that the developments in Marneuli are intentional.
According to Kobakhidze, representatives of two branches of the National Movement in Marneuli are holding a joint rally.
Headline on the photo: Just so you know, Bidzina Ivanishvili’s teammate has been arrested
Post Text: “Just so you know, Bidzina Ivanishvili’s teammate has been arrested” - said expert Nikoloz Mchedlishvili on social media.
“Just so you know, Bidzina Ivanishvili’s teammate, former deputy mayor of Zugdidi Goga Gulordava has been arrested and Tskaltubo Assembly chairperson Grigol...
Headline on the photo: “We don’t have political prisoners in Georgia. We only have people that have committed a concrete crime.”
Post Text: According to one of the leaders of parliamentary majority, Mamuka Mdinaradze, “there are no political prisoners in Georgia. We have people that have committed crime and have been prosecuted for it. Verdicts have not yet been delivered.”
Headline on the photo: Irakli Shotadze’s resignation was a mistake. If he comes back, I will welcome it.
Post Text: “As a result of consistent reforms, we now have an independent prosecution service that, turns out, the opposition doesn’t like. This reconfirms our assumption that we shouldn’t let them come into power again” - told Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani to reporters following the meeting of the government.
Headline on the photo: Appointment of Saakashvili to a political office in Ukraine is a clear insult to the Georgian people.
Post Text: We appeal to our friends, Ukrainian people and the government of Ukraine, to take into account Georgian society’s concerns and not to appoint a criminal and an abuser to a high-level state office. He has been convicted and is currently wanted by the Georgian State.
Headline on the photo: National Movement is on life support. The timer is on. Their political funeral service has begun.
Post Text: Politically, the National Movement is on life support. The timer is on. National Movement’s political funeral service has begun - a member of the parliamentary majority, Anri Okhanashvili said.
According to Okhanashvili, the opposition is so weak that they can’t even lie...
Headline on the photo: “Atlantic Council leader is a point person for the National Movement”
Post Text: In the contract signed between Orion Strategies and the National Movement in 2019, Batu Kutelia is indicated as the National Movement’s Representative. He currently serves as a vice-president of the Atlantic Council of Georgia - said a leader of the parliamentary majority, Mamuka Mdinaradze during a briefing...
Headline on the photo: “You have no right to be in politics” - Nikoloz Mchedlishvili to Shalva Natelashvili
Post Text: “Shalva Natelashvili has written something about Badri Patarkatsishvili’s family, Imedi and their consciousness. I want to tell Mr. Shalva that out of all people, you have no right to speak like that. You have no right to be in politics even” - wrote expert Nikoloz Mchedlishvili on social media.
Headline on the photo: What more do you need the doctors fighting against COVID to tell you, malicious and harmful sect. “We are sorry if we disappointed you and we aren’t having a widespread epidemic”
Post Text: “What more do you need the doctors fighting against COVID to tell you, malicious and harmful sect. We are sorry if we disappointed you and we aren’t having a widespread epidemic” - wrote expert Levan Nikoleishvili on social media.
According to him, they continue to joke about and criticize doctors, the authorities, the people and talk about them with malice. They hate everyone who does not support the National Movement and does not pray to Saakashvili.
“They continue to joke about and criticize doctors, the authorities, the people, and talk about them with malice”
Post Sponsoring on False Media Pages
Only posts with propaganda purpose and with the intention to shape public opinion are sponsored on false media pages. On average, every other published post is sponsored by them. Notably, essentially all sponsored posts in the form of news are in fact political advertisement. They mostly contain political propaganda and aim to portray the authorities in a positive light or discredit the opposition, media critical toward the authorities, NGOs and civic activists.
Half of the posts published on false media sites are published without being sponsired. Such posts mostly concern non-political or international news, including world politics, sports, culture, natural disasters, etc. The purpose of publishing posts that are not sponsored is to mislead Facebook users into thinking that these pages are media outlets and to create an illusion of credibility, which continues to be the consistent tactic across all false media pages. Facebook users that do not subscribe to these pages will notice such posts only if they visit the page itself. Therefore, often posts that are not boosted have zero interactions.
Sponsored (marked with a green check mark) and unsponsored (marked with a red X) posts on false media pages
Notably, false media pages do not publish any information that contains criticism of the government’s performance or questions credibility of the government’s messages.
Types of Posts on False Media Pages
ISFED has found that most frequently, pages that operated on Facebook until December 20 used to publish posts in the form of photos and majority of sponsored posts were photos. The five false media pages in question resort to the same tactic. 99% of their posts were photos. These photos usually include an inscription, as a title of the news story, and contain the message that represents the purpose of dissemination of the post.
Earlier findings of ISFED with respect to the false media pages that operated prior to December 20 highlighted their use of identical photos and important similarities in or identical nature of photo inscriptions, fonts and phrases used. ISFED’s observation clearly shows that in a possible attempt to hide coordination, the new false media pages resort to the tactic of using different photos. Photos used by different pages, which reflect the same story, are often accompanied with inscriptions made using different fonts.
Headline on the photo: The Telegraph: former factory worker is world's most generous donor in fight against Covid-19”.
Post Text: “Former factory worker is world's most generous donor in fight against Covid-19” - this is the title of an article published by a British newspaper The Telegraph.
According to the publication, 100 million laris donated by Bidzina Ivanishvili to StopCov fund is the highest per capita donation in the fight against the pandemic.
“They are the billionaires who have given fortunes away to help the Covid-19 relief effort across the globe. But despite six and even seven-figure donations by some of the world’s leading philanthropists...”
Headline on the photo: The Telegraph - Bidzina Ivanishvili is the largest donor in the fight against the pandemic.
Post Text: Bidzina Ivanishvili, a Georgian businessman and the Prime Minister of a former soviet republic in 2012-2013, is the world’s most generous donor in the fight against COVID-19 - says The Telegraph.
According to the article, Bidzina Ivanishvili made a donation of 30 million dollars.
“Despite six and even seven-figure donations by some of the world’s leading philanthropists...”
1% of posts published by the five false media pages (9 posts) were videos, all of which were sponsored. As of May 20, these videos had a total of 281,055 views. Notably, the following two false media pages - „portalnews.ge“ and „infostudio.ge“ published absolutely identical videos at the same time, with a Georgian voice over, which is indicative of their coordination. A video of the Minister of Health of Singapore giving advice about coronavirus, with a Georgian voice over was first uploaded on Pia.ge’s Facebook page. After the video was published by false media pages, it then appeared on the pro-governmental media page „POSTV - ახალი ამბები“, without indicating who did the voice over of the video.
portalnews.ge, infostudio.ge: Do masks protect us from coronavirus? Recommendations of the Minister of Health of Singapore, Gan Kim Yong on how to protect ourselves from coronavirus.
POSTV, Pia: Advice of the Minister of Health of Singapore on coronavirus. Advice of the Minister of Health of Singapore on how to protect ourselves from coronavirus
New tactics of the False Media Pages
The new false media action strategy has acquired several elements that were mostly or completely absent from the previous pages, including:
- Sponsoring of Facebook pages (in parallel with sponsoring of posts);
- Creating webpages under the false media name and publishing “news stories” on them;
- Indicating inauthentic persons as authors of news reports on the websites;
- Using other social media platforms;
- Publishing and sponsoring old news stories for political convenience.
- Sponsoring of Facebook pages
While old false media pages mostly focused on sponsoring of posts, pages created after Facebook’s operation in December started employing new tactic of sponsoring the pages themselves as well. It is possible that the purpose of using the new tactic is to increase the number of page users, to ensure that users see their posts even without sponsoring and to foster users’ trust towards these pages. Notably, often sponsoring and advertisement of different pages take place on the same time period.
- Creating false media websites and publishing “news stories”
One common element of false media pages removed by Facebook in late 2019 was the fact that they did not exist in any other space but Facebook and they did not have any webpages. The false media pages created following Facebook’s December operation changed their tactics and started creating websites publishing news stories on them.
Five new false media pages registered their website domains one by one, within the period of three days, on January 9, 10 and 11. This fact further supports the argument about their coordination.
All five false media websites are using WordPress application, version 5.3.2. The websites have been registered by the Georgian Research and Educational Networking Association (GRENA). Physical or legal persons that own these websites are unknown because the webpage owners limited public access to their identity and contact information in the process of registration of their domains and it is possible that they paid an additional fee to the registration company for this service.
- Indicating fake names as authors of news stories on published the websites
False media websites indicate possibly fictitious persons as authors of articles that they publish. Nearly all materials on each website are published under the same name (webmedia.ge - Geno Tordia, pnn.ge - Dator Kirvalidze, portalnews.ge - Nino Samkharadze, infostudio.ge - Keti Maisuradze, geomedia.ge - Dato Kapanadze). Notably, copyright on these materials belongs to different news agencies and majority of these articles have been copied from genuine media outlets. False media websites do not indicate any personally identifying information about authors or their contact information; they only indicate their names.
website of webmedia.ge indicates Geno Tordia as an author of all its articles
Origin of false media materials and copyright infringement
On the most part, materials published by the false media Facebook pages and their websites have been copied from various online news agencies. In individual cases, titles were slightly modified.
ISFED studied the origin of all sponsored posts published by five false media pages from the date of their creation to May 20 and found that nearly all sponsored posts were copied from other media websites. A total of 423 cases of copyright infringement were found. False media pages copy sponsored content mostly from websites of Channel 1 of the Public Broadcaster and Imedi TV Company, as well as online media agencies - “Interpressnews” and Pia.ge, without indicating sources. They also use materials from the following news websites: Kvira.ge, Ipress.ge, Primetime.ge and others. Contents of the materials mostly cover messages of the government and experts associated with the authorities and activities of the ruling party representatives. Articles that portray political opposition and civic activists in a negative light are also used for sponsoring.
With the exception of permitted content, materials may not be copied, stored, disseminated, published, broadcasted, modified or publicly displayed (including on any website) fully or partially. Any use of the content requires a written permission of Channel 1.
- Posting old news stories based on political convenience
In addition to posting and sponsoring of articles on political processes in a selective manner, false media pages sometimes disseminate old news reports, including in a way that misleads readers into thinking that they represent current news. As an example, such sponsored posts were disseminated after on February 10, 2020 the Supreme Court of Georgia sentenced Gigi Ugulava, General Secretary of an opposition political party European Georgia - Movement for Freedom, to an additional term of imprisonment for appropriation/embezzlement of funds from Tbilisi Development Fund during his tenure as a mayor of Tbilisi.
The day after Ugulava’s arrest, on February 11, one of the false media pages - portalnews.ge - published an article, originally published on an online news agency On.ge two months earlier, on December 11, 2019, which concerned the arrest of Irakli Kakulia, then-chairperson of the City of Poti Assembly, on charges of appropriation of public funds. The material published by the false media site did not specify the date of Kakulia’s arrest. The purpose of its dissemination was possibly to dispel any questions that public had about political motives behind Ugulava’s arrest.
portalnews.ge - Headline on the photo: Poti Sakrebulo Chairperson has been charged for appropriation of public funds. Post text: Irakli Kakulia, Chairperson of Poti Assembly, a municipal employee and a director of a company called Island have been charged for appropriation of public funds. According to the prosecution service, Irakli Kakulia abused his official powers as a mayor, together with a former head of a municipal service, in favor of the company Island, and by doing so he violated legal interests of the State.
Article on portalnews.ge website:
Poti Sakrebulo Chairperson has been charged for appropriation of public funds
February 11, 2020
Irakli Kakulia, Chairperson of Poti Assembly, a municipal employee and a director of a company called Island have been charged for appropriation of public funds.
According to the prosecution service, Irakli Kakulia abused his official powers as a mayor, together with a former head of a municipal service, in favor of the company Island, and by doing so he violated legal interests of the State.
The investigative authorities explained that during construction of Poti Theatre, the civil servants used fake handover acts, according to which the value of the works performed was GEL 9 102 139,71 and they accepted these works while in reality the value of the works performed was GEL 359 222,81 less.
The civil servants were charged under para.1 of art.332 (abuse of official power), para.3”a” and 3”b” of art.25.180 (fraud committed by abusing official power), para.2”d” of art.25.182 (appropriation committed by abusing official power), para.3”b” of art.25.182 (appropriation of a significant amount of money), para.2”a” of art.210 (production, sale or use of fake credit or debit cards by a group) of the Criminal Code of Georgia.
As to the director of the company Island, he was charged under para.3”a” and “b” of Article 180 (fraud committed by abusing official power), para.2”d” of Article 182 (appropriation committed by abusing official power), para.3”b” of Article 182 (appropriation of a significant amount of money), para.2”a” of art.2010 (production, sale or use of fake credit or debit cards by a group).The charges are subject to imprisonment from 7 to 11 years, as a type and measure of punishment.
Article on On.ge website published on 11 December 2019 - Poti Sakrebulo Chairperson charged for appropriation of public funds: Chairperson of Poti Assembly Irakli Kakulia, a municipal employee and a director of a company called Island have been charged for appropriation of public funds.
Imprisonment of Ugulava was the main topic in the following days. Another false media page - infostudio.ge - posted an article originally published by Netgazeti on May 19, 2010, concerning a reporter’s statement, according to which she and her husband were given two free nights at a hotel by the Office of Tbilisi Mayor (during Ugulava’s tenure).
Headline on the photo: Two nights at the Radisson - a reporter’s pre-election request to Tbilisi Mayor’s Office
Post text: “I told Tbilisi Mayor’s Office that since we get so tired during the pre-election period, a husband and wife don’t have enough time to do some things and we have to work at night, so I asked them for a two-night stay at the Radisson for us and they fulfilled my request. I want to thank them for that” - said Keti Bojgua, a reporter of the public broadcaster.
The reporter made this statement in an interview with the public broadcaster and the interview was aired on May 16, during a 4pm newscast.
Keti Bojgua made the statement at the closing ceremony of Mass-Moda 2010.
Her husband is Beka Kokaia, head of the press office at the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association.
Average cost of one night at the Radisson is USD 280.
Article on infostudio.ge website:
Two nights at the Radisson - a reporter’s pre-election request to Tbilisi Mayor’s Office
February 19, 2020
“I told Tbilisi Mayor’s Office that since we get so tired during the pre-election period, a husband and wife don’t have enough time to do some things and we have to work at night, so I asked them for a two-night stay at the Radisson for us and they fulfilled my request. I want to thank them for that” - said Keti Bojgua, a reporter of the public broadcaster.
The reporter made this statement in an interview with the public broadcaster and the interview was aired on May 16, during a 4pm newscast.
Article on netgazeti.ge website published on 19 May 2010
Two nights at the Radisson - a reporter’s pre-election request for Tbilisi Mayor
- Use of other social media platforms
False media pages created following Facebook’s operation on December 20 started using other social media platforms alongside Facebook. All five pages created YouTube channels, Twitter accounts and Instagram profiles. However, as of now, registration on these platforms only serves the purpose of supporting the attempts to make their Facebook pages seem like a genuine media and they are not used for dissemination of political propaganda. YouTube channels and Instagram accounts currently have no content, however it is possible that these platforms will be used for political campaigning in the future.
Unlike Instagram and YouTube, false media started actively publishing posts on Twitter. However, their accounts are not visible to large audiences and user interaction is minimal. Number of their subscribers is no more than 4. False news agencies use social media auto poster dlvrit, which allows them to automatically posts photos and their captions published on a website to social media platforms, including Twitter.
How to Tell Apart the False Media and Real Media Facebook Pages?
In addition to the foregoing characteristics, social media users can identify false media pages using other characteristics. Real media organizations are using pages verified by Facebook, which means that Facebook confirms page authenticity. Verified pages have a special badge confirming that this is an authentic page or a profile of a media company, public figure or brand. According to the latest data, verified media pages include: Radio Tavisupleba (RFE/RL Georgian service; On.ge; TV Pirveli; Rustavi 2; Mtavari Arkhi (TV Mtavari); Channel 1 of the GPB; TV Imedi; and others.
Not all media companies have a verified page. However, real media organizations, unlike false media pages, ensure at least a minimum standard of transparency of information about a news agency in the process of using a social media platform, and display at least one of the following elements:
- Names of team members are disclosed on Facebook (profiles of individuals that manage the page) - g. Radio Tavisupleba; Netgazeti; Tabula; On.ge; InterPressNews.ge, Channel 1; Adjara TV;
- Address of the news agency is specified - e.g. Publika; Radio Tavisupleba; Reginfo.ge; Rustavi 2; Channel 1; TV Imedi; Formula News; Ajara TV;
- Authentic contact information is indicated (phone number and e-mail) - g. On.ge; InterPressNews.ge; Radio Tavisupleba; Netgazeti; Reginfo.ge; TV Pirveli; Rustavi 2; Mtavari Arkhi (Mtavari TV); Channel 1; TV Imedi; Formula News; Ajara TV.
In addition to Facebook pages, the standard of transparency is somewhat ensured in case of genuine online media websites, including by specifying the following types of information: address, contact information, information about owners, the ruling body, the managing director, authors, projects and/or financial donors, etc.
Notably, in most cases transparency of information about domain name registrants is ensured in the process of media website registration. Information about the owner of the website’s address is publicly available (registrant, TechName, TechEmail, AdminName, AdminEmail), while false news agencies hide this information.
Unlike online media, the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting establishes obligations of transparency for companies that hold a license in broadcasting field. Broadcasters are required to publish the declaration of compliance on their websites, which includes information about the license applicant, head officers and bodies, as well as identification of beneficial owners of a license applicant and information about shares owned by them.
Monitoring of new false media pages creates suspicions that actors behind them are the same ones that administered pages removed by Facebook in December 2019. Notably, in the past, false media focused on creating as many pages as possible, while now they focus on improving the quality of performance, they utilize the small number of pages at a higher scale and make efforts to hide coordination. The five false media pages are currently most active and ISFED has documented a number of signs of their inauthentic behavior. In addition, as the elections are approaching, it is possible that the number of false media pages will increase even more. The strategy of such pages is to create an illusion of credibility, as political propaganda is delivered to Facebook users under the guise of news reports. At the same time, use of undeclared funds for political purposes and/or illegal donations in favor of the ruling political party remains to be an important challenge. These circumstances attest once again to the importance of full-scale introduction of Facebook’s Ad Library in Georgia for ensuring more transparency of sponsored political content.
ISFED’s social media monitoring program is carried out with the generous support from the American people through financial assistance from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), East-West Management Institute’s (EWMI) ACCESS Project, and through funding from Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF). Content of this report is the sole responsibility of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy and may not necessarily reflect the views of the donor organizations.