C-Informa investigation provided data for suspension of irregular government Twitter accounts

C-Informa investigation provided data for suspension of irregular government Twitter accounts

Published on 27 Jan 2023

At least 150 accounts were suspended by the social network

At least 150 accounts were suspended by the social network after The Informational Coalition conducted an investigation on the climate change conversation at the UN. Bots that spread and replicated disinformation and propaganda labels promoted by the Ministry of Communication and Information were taken offline.

Twitter recently suspended at least 150 anomalous accounts that amplified disinformation and propaganda of the Venezuelan government and that operated in the social network in an automated manner, generating spam or with suspicious behavior. The action executed by the social network was generated after the contributions offered by the investigation of the Information Coalition C-Informa, which discovered and denounced how the digital machinery of Nicolás Maduro promoted massive propaganda during the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP27), misinforming about the true situation of the environment in Venezuela.

Accounts of the network called Tuiteros de La Patria -funded through the Sistema Patria-; users that generate spam with the use of multiple Twitter accounts; and automated accounts -bots- that retweeted content published through the official accounts of Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) and the Ministry of Popular Power for Communication and Information (MIPPCI), are part of the suspensions produced by the social network after Cazadores de Fake News, ProBox, Medianálisis, Efecto Cocuyo and El Estímulo disseminated the digital information irregularities produced by the Maduro government with its participation in the COP27.

In December 2022, the Information Coalition C-Informa published four journalistic works that revealed the disinformative impact produced by Maduro’s speech in the city of Sharm El Sheikh where he generated a narrative of alleged environmental protection under the umbrella of ecosocialism; made international diplomatic policy in the framework of blockades and sanctions; and used the State’s communicational apparatus to contaminate information, position inauthentic conversations and make disinformative campaigns, including in social networks such as Twitter.

According to the monitoring carried out by the teams of Cazadores de Fake News and ProBox, the suspensions occurred after the publication of the investigations published by C-Informa and after the dissemination of a report published by Cazadores de Fake News on a botnet, identified by both organizations as propaganda amplifying accounts (baptized with the name “VTVBots-1”).

The suspension of these accounts was also confirmed by multiple reports of closures published on Twitter and Telegram by users who are part of the Tuiteros de La Patria network. According to estimates made by Cazadores de Fake News, the number exceeds 300 accounts closed by the social network, only during the month of January.

Another finding of this research was to make visible how several Venezuelan cyber-communities, close to the government, amplified in a coordinated manner the number of messages with narratives related to the Venezuelan government during the conference, even surpassing the global conversation of environmental activists and spokespersons about the event.

The Information Coalition’s investigation revealed how the Venezuelan government, before, during, and after COP27, promoted environmental narratives with no basis in fact or in a misleading manner, such as Venezuela’s commitment to the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), the figures on deforestation in the country and Venezuela’s “success” at the global environmental conference.

C-Informa’s work details how the government blamed capitalism as the only responsible for the environmental crisis and the Amazon and pointed out that Venezuela is a victim country and not a promoter of pollution.

Cazadores de Fake News and ProBox teams detected that: among 27 bot accounts belonging to the so-called “VTVBots-1” network, 13 disseminated messages favorable to the government of Nicolás Maduro, during the promotion of trends related to COP27. It was also specified that 6 accounts of another different bot network, “ArmadaVEN-1”, also suspended, participated in the promotion of Venezuelan propaganda labels within the framework of the international event. An additional 61 spam-generating accounts managed by human operators were also permanently suspended after their participation in several pro-government propaganda trends related to the conference.

C-Informa was able to determine that the group of suspended accounts also actively participated, for months, in the promotion of other propaganda trends promoted by the MIPPCI, including labels in defense of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman who is detained in the United States for allegedly committing money laundering and weaving a corruption network that allowed the government of Nicolás Maduro to obtain millions of dollars for the purchase and distribution of CLAP food.

The suspension of these is due to the analysis of several disinformative tags on Twitter promoted by the Ministry of People’s Power for Communication and Information (MIPPCI) by members of the Information Coalition, C-Informa. Regarding the tags related to COP27, Probox identified how the ecosocialism narrative grouped almost 3 million messages on Twitter to pretend popular support for “being a key ally” against climate change; however 94.34% of these messages were generated by accounts with inauthentic behavior.

Here you can find the research carried out:

1- https://efectococuyo.com/cambio-climatico/cop27-otca-maduro-petro/

2- https://www.medianalisis.org/la-etiqueta-cop27-fue-manipulada-para-que-maduro- ampliara-su-desinformacion-la-propaganda-ambiental-y-diplomatica/

3- https://elestimulo.com/desinformacion-en-venezuela/2022-12-14/arco-minero-un- territorio-sin-ley-del-que-maduro-no-hablo-en-la-cop27/

The investigation that provided data to Twitter is part of the work of the Information Coalition “C-Informa”, a Venezuelan journalistic team that aims to confront disinformation and is integrated by Efecto Cocuyo, El Estímulo, Cazadores de Fake News and Probox with the support of the Consortium to Support Independent Journalism in the Region (CAPIR) and the advice of Chequeado from Argentina and DataCrítica from Mexico.

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