Many of us have long suspected that it was created by some Latin American governments. ejércitos de twiteros — Literally the Twitter army — slander political opponents. However, recent scandals in Venezuela and Mexico shed new light on how this practice has expanded.
In Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro’s dictatorship not only pays people for writing and retweet government-supported messages, but also openly, according to a new report scheduled to be released Thursday. There is.
Report, “Digital Dictatorship: Maduro Managing Venezuela’s Information Environment” According to the Washington, DC-based Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, the administration will pay the minimum wage to those who amplify the parent government’s message at least 400 times a day.
“The Maduro administration has implemented a range of controls, from oppressive measures such as censorship, Internet shutdown, and silence of critics to” aggressive “promotion such as Twitter posts by paid citizens.” Said the report.
In a telephone interview from Bogotá, Colombia, co-author of the report, Daniel Suarez Perez, said, “There are many governments trying to influence social media, but Venezuela is the most open government. “. “You can find instructions on government social media on how to make money to tweet official promotions,” he added.
Venezuela’s Ministry of Communications and Information publishes “today’s hashtags” to its army of paid and tweeted warriors on its Twitter page almost every day, the report said. Hashtags are words or short sentences used to identify Twitter topics.
Paid Twitter activists use the recommended hashtags to write and retweet messages. To receive payment, you must first register your Twitter account with the government app linked to. Carne de la Patria, Or Motherland’s Card, a government app used to pay social aid recipients.
Top producers often proudly post government receipts on Twitter to show how much money they’ve made from Maduro’s tweets.
One such example posted to the parent government’s telegram account on January 19 shows a “weekly performance payment” of 384,000 Bolivars (equivalent to 22 cents). It’s audibly low, but it’s about the economically devastated Venezuela’s weekly minimum wage.
By flooding social media with pro-government messages, the Maduro administration can easily manipulate trendy topics. The report states that it can convince readers that something it promotes is the most talked-about issue in Venezuela.
This is the model that other Latin American governments are following.
In Mexico, the government’s Notimex news agency has been accused of creating social media accounts to attack government critics. According to a 2020 survey by Article 19 Free Press Advocates and the University of ITESO in Guadalajara, the operation was coordinated directly by Notimex Director Sanjuana Martinez.
Ten witnesses said in Article 19 that Notimex executives used WhatsApp chat groups to create fake Twitter accounts for government journalists and post messages to government critics. Told.
March 30 US State Department Human Rights Report “Journalists who asked the president a difficult question at a daily press conference were attacked via Twitter. Tweets spread their identity and media and created a hidden threat.”
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador assisted Martinez instead of immediately dismissing him.
The day after the State Department’s report was released, Lopez Obrador said Martinez was “our respectable and excellent journalist.” He then blamed her accusator violently.
In recent years, former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and Argentine former Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner have also run a network of pro-government Twitter activists to harass political opponents. It has been reported.
Venezuela is a dictatorship that follows Cuban measures to completely suppress freedom of expression, so there is little we can do about Venezuela.
But for Mexico and other countries that claim to respect basic freedom, the government’s efforts to intimidate the enemy on Twitter should be accused of being a dull attack on freedom of expression.
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