SOCIAL MEDIA MONITORING FINAL REPORT - 2021 ELECTIONS - ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN SOCIAL MEDIA
In parallel with the transformation of social media into one of the main sources of information, in recent years, one of the main challenges of the elections has been the manipulation of voters by harmful actors using various strategies and tactics. From 2018, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, via open-source data, seeks to identify coordinated information campaigns, expose manipulative tactics and strategies, increase disinformation resilience by informing voters and notifying the most popular social media platform in Georgia – Facebook about key findings.
In parallel with the identification of anonymous and manipulative information in the 2021 municipal elections, following in the footsteps of the election process, ISFED monitored election subjects – activity of political parties and candidates on social media, illegal agitation by public officials, official Facebook pages of local self-government bodies, and the posting of political advertisements. From the start of the election campaign until the second round of elections, from August 2 to November 6, the organization issued five interim reports on monitoring findings. This document is a summary report regarding the October 2nd, 2021 municipal elections, presenting main trends and findings identified by ISFED during the election period on social media on election campaigns.
Facebook's library of political advertisements has been operating in Georgia since August 2020. According to the Facebook standard, all political and election advertisements are subject to declaration. The enactment of this standard to some extent has hindered anonymous actors from freely distributing anonymous political advertisements; however, in parallel with the platform's changed policies and strict standards, they often use false declarations, change information manipulation tactics, and thus try to conquer the information space of voters.
In parallel with the official campaign of Election Subjects on the most active social media platform in Georgia- Facebook and other less popular platforms, discrediting messages were still actively spread via mostly anonymous actors. The targets of the discrediting campaigns, along with the current political processes and election subjects, were also media outlets and non-governmental organizations.
ISFED observers scrutinized 7,922 posts published on Facebook using the monitoring program for the 2021 local government elections. Pages Revealed by ISFED and descriptions of their activities are available on the interactive website – www.disinfoobserver.ge.