Discrediting and anti-Western messages spread on Facebook November 18-24
Spreading anti-opposition messages by a pro-government fake account that uses an AI-generated photo to disguise its identity
There is an account on Facebook under the name of Nikoloz Ghlonti, which actively spreads anti-opposition messages. In particular, it attacks representatives of the opposition and certain critical media outlets. The account also features posts supporting the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili and the government. As a result of an image analysis by ISFED, it was revealed that the photo of the person shown on the profile is generated by artificial intelligence and the said person does not actually exist.
Nikoloz Ghlonti's account states that he lives in Poland and graduated from the Warsaw School of Economics. The account currently has more than 4.9 thousand friends. Some of his posts are highly interacted. One of his posts, which negatively echoes the November 15 parliamentary text of the opposition deputy, Aleko Elisashvili, was placed in the form of an advertisement on the anti-opposition page Gldaneli.
According to Myth Detector, this account, which also manages the Facebook group Irakli Gharibashvili-Georgian Dream, previously stole the photo of Artyom Stefanov, a Polish social media user. After the publication of the mentioned material, the stolen photo was deleted and a photo generated by artificial intelligence appeared on the profile.
At first glance, it is difficult to distinguish a photo generated by artificial intelligence from a real one, however, by observing certain details, it is possible to conclude that the human face shown in the photo is artificially created.
- The hair is blended with the background. The eyebrows are also unnaturally mixed with the skin.
- The shape of the ears is asymmetrical and different from each other, which is common in photos generated by artificial intelligence; Asymmetry is also found in the jaw line and neck; Artificial intelligence is also not able to subtly process the teeth, its traces are visible on the lips and nostrils.
It is not the first time in Georgia that a photo of a fake account operating against the opposition has been created by artificial intelligence. In 2019, a Facebook page was posing as Giorgi Agapishvili, which acted against the opposition and in favor of the government, and was deleted after disclosure.
People’s Power: the current practice of funding NGOs from abroad creates a natural threat to sovereignty and should be subject to a strict legal framework
In the statement published by the public movement People's Power on November 18, an opinion is expressed that the financing of the Georgian non-governmental sector should be included in the legislative framework, and the proposal will be prepared in the near future, in accordance with Western practice. The movement, which was formed by politicians formally separated from the ruling party, claims that the largest part of US funding goes to non-governmental organizations that act as agents, and that this practice threatens Georgia's sovereignty. The chairman of the ruling party, Irakli Kobakhidze, also stated that the largest part of US funding is used for civil organizations, which, according to Factmeter, is an obvious lie.
The statement mentions that foreign agents operate in Europe as well, where the majority of states have essentially lost their sovereignty. People's Power claims that in 2004-2012, the Georgian government was staffed by agents managed from outside, and that the violations of human rights and territorial integrity were dictated by the West. According to them, the foreign partners will continue to talk about regression until the agents' rule is restored.
In addition, the movement noted in the statement that the resolutions of the European Parliament aim to weaken the democratic government and strengthen the agents. One of the members of the People's Power, Davit Kartvelishvili, said that the movement's desire is to "return the force formed as an anti-government sector to the format of the non-governmental sector and from the field of “agentocracy” to the constitutional, democratic rules of the game."
Levan Khabeishvili’s defamation after being presented as a candidate of chairmanship for the party
On November 16, it became known that the UNM MP, Levan Khabeishvili, would participate in the chairmanship elections of the party. Anonymous anti-opposition pages and POSTV Facebook pages began actively defaming him through posts and programs. Various videos related to Khabeishvili were published on anonymous pages in order to discredit him. Among them was a different position expressed by him in the past regarding the chairmanship, which was used to emphasize the unprincipled nature of the candidate. The phrase "Curcumal Vite" (Meaning Curriculum Vitae) mentioned by Levan Khabeishvili in a comedy talk show became the basis of ridicule. The mentioned phrase was spread sarcastically on anonymous pages, TV programs and in Irakli Kobakhidze’s statement posted on the page.
Messages against the Ambassador, Kelly C. Degnan from pro-government actors regarding the statements she made about the Deoligarchization Law and David Kramer
On November 21, the representatives of the European Union in Georgia stated that the conclusion of the Venice Commission must be fulfilled before the adoption of the de-oligarchization law. The US Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan, evaluated the statement positively. She noted that there is some confusion because the draft law on de-oligarchization, which was developed in Ukraine, was withdrawn from the Venice Commission, and currently there is no request for an opinion on this law from either Georgia or Ukraine. After the announcement, pro-government experts and members of People's Power began criticizing the US ambassador.
Persons positioning themselves as experts questioned Degnan's interest in the bill. They accused the ambassador of talking about facts that did not happen, because the law of Ukraine is available on the website of the Venice Commission. According to the pro-government actors, the current processes are pre-agreed with Degnan. Experts accused the ambassador of using Ukraine to attack Georgia.
The anti-Degnan messages were also related to her comments on the statement of the American researcher, David Kramer. Kramer's statement was about the imposition of sanctions against Bidzina Ivanishvili, Degnan said that she did not want to comment on it, however, in her opinion Kramer cares about Georgia and wants to see it succeed. Pro-government experts accused the ambassador of not making a clear statement about the campaign of American high-ranking officials, non-governmental organizations and local politicians.
The following experts shared collective opinions related to the above-mentioned issues: Tamta Megrelishvili, Zurab Kadagidze, Nino Fochkhua, Gia Gabrichidze, Levan Nikolishvili, Irakli Lataria, Gia Abashidze, Edisher Gvenetadze. A material with identical content was distributed by the Facebook page POSTV- Analytics.
The defamation of Giorgi Vashadze after his speech in the parliament, his comparison with Mikheil Saakashvili
Posts targeting Giorgi Vashadze, chairman of the Strategy Agmashenebeli party, became active on anonymous Facebook pages after his speech during Irakli Gharibashvili's visit to the parliament. The pages published posts mocking Vashadze, in which they compared him to Mikheil Saakashvili during his speech.
Mocking Irakli Garibashvili after his speech in the parliament
On November 18, the Prime Minister's opinions were heard in the Parliament of Georgia in the manner of interpellation. After that, the anonymous pages operating against the Georgian Dream posted mocking posts of Irakli Gharibashvili, referring to his position on various issues and this speech in general.
About the Weekly Review
Within the social media monitoring ISFED presents the weekly overview and describes the messages that echo the political issues, (more or less) virally circulates on social networks during the week, and more than one actor, account or page is involved in its spread. In certain cases, the most interactive posts of the week are presented.
The organization uses the Facebook monitoring tool- Crowdtangle - for data processing and relies on an existing, up-to-date database of pages/accounts involved in discrediting campaigns.
The pages are available on the platform - www.disinfoobserver.ge