YouTube Eliminates 82 Sites with Ortega Regime Propaganda

YouTube channels shut down / Confidencial

The closure of the YouTube channels occurred two days after Facebook, eliminated a “cross-government troll farm” in Nicaragua.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Google Alphabet, YouTube’s parent company, has cancelled 82 YouTube channels and three blogs, all tied to the Nicaraguan government’s troll farm whose existence was disclosed on November 1st.  The channels broadcast sports and information sympathetic to the Ortega regime, a spokesperson from the Tech company told the Reuters agency. The closure of the YouTube channels occurred two days after Facebook, eliminated a “cross-government troll farm” in Nicaragua.

The Google Alphabet spokesperson explained that the elimination of the channels is related to an investigation underway on coordinated influence operations tied to Nicaragua. The Facebook report mentions that YouTube was also part of the Ortega regime’s network of false accounts. The Nicaraguan government strategy involved fake accounts on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, BlogSpot and Telegram as well.

The small YouTube channels had fewer than 1500 subscribers in total. They mainly “put up fraudulent contents in Spanish, regarding games and sports. A small subset put out content that supported President Ortega and the Sandinista party and criticized the United States.”

“This campaign was consistent with similar findings reported by Facebook,” stated the Reuters spokesperson.

Facebook uncovered the “troll farm”

Similarly, the Facebook report maintained that the pro-government “troll farm” they uncovered published “contents that presented the government in a positive light, along with negative comments about the opposition This propaganda operation utilized hundreds of fake accounts to promote these posts.” In addition, the report demonstrated the involvement of several of the state institutions in the generation of digital content.

“It was primarily operated by employees of the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and the Post (TELCOR), working from the headquarters of the postal service in Managua. Additional smaller clusters of fake accounts were run from other government institutions, including the Supreme Court and the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute,” the report indicates.

On October 29, several Ortega supporters were complaining on Twitter that “thousands” or “two hundred” accounts had been suspended. They termed the dismantling of the “troll farm” as an “imperialist attack”, and called the massive suspension of accounts, “censorship, to create a media fence around the accounts of leftists from the continent.” These sources claimed the companies had also suspended accounts from Venezuela.

However, Twitter and Facebook asserted that the cause of the suspension was “coordinated inauthentic behavior” from the Ortega-allied trolls, involving the proliferation of fake accounts. “We eliminated a network of 937 Facebook accounts, 140 pages, 24 groups and 363 Instagram accounts in Nicaragua,” the tech company stated.

Members of the opposition, human rights defenders and journalists have denounced that they were victims of coordinated smear campaigns and harassment through fake profiles from “users” claiming to sympathize with the Ortega regime.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.