ProBox: Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua use Twitter as a means of propaganda and disinformation

ProBox: Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua use Twitter as a means of propaganda and disinformation

Published on 09 Feb 2023

#Twitterzuela2021 narrates how the digital conversation has behaved in the three regimes.

Due to censorship in traditional media and digital spaces in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, we document influence operations and denounce disinformation campaigns or manipulation strategies in the conversation of social networks; producing research and citizen training spaces oriented especially to raise awareness about this problem, through education as one of the fundamental pillars for the defense of digital rights in a cross-cutting manner in the region.


In 2021 we monitored and analyzed the digital conversation of Twitter trends in Venezuela, especially how it was characterized by propaganda and disinformation campaigns. In the same year we expanded our scope to include the study of the digital conversation in Cuba and Nicaragua, after identifying similarities and coincidences in the positioning of trends by the regimes of three countries.


The communicational hegemony of these authoritarian regimes and the censorship imposed on traditional media is also gaining more and more space in the digital world with measures that restrict the free use of the internet, added to the use of automated accounts and user accounts coordinated inauthentically among themselves by the State to contaminate the conversation on social networks, with the intention of manipulating the information presented on these platforms.


“It is quite alarming the creation of laws that seek to justify violations of digital rights and increasingly limit the expressions issued in social networks by citizens, activists, media,” said our executive director, Maria Virginia Marin.


She added that the cooperation between these three countries is not only military and ideological, but there is also coordination in the positioning of messages in networks, specifically on Twitter.


Estefania Da Silva, our general coordinator, emphasized that “the creation of these laws in the three countries coincides with significant social outbursts, as these were accompanied by digital activism, forcing regimes to expose their levels of censorship to hide the citizen narrative”.


In 2021 we found that at least 22 tags were trending simultaneously in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua; that is, some actor promoted a tag and from the other two countries enough tweets were generated using that hashtag that it managed to position itself among the trends in the other nations. These coinciding hashtags totaled approximately 3,799,612 tweets.


Cuba originated the highest number of trends and messages positioned in parallel among the three countries, followed by Venezuela. 15 of the 22 tags come from the island and the Cuban regime was the actor that promoted most of these with 10 totaling more than 1.5 million messages. The main narrative of the state tags is propaganda to the Cuban revolution, ephemeris and campaigns to delegitimize citizen protests.


6 of the 22 matching tags come from Venezuela, totaling approximately 1,256,000 messages, all promoted by the ruling party, being the Ministry of Information and Communication the main actor with 5 trending topics and 1,244,000 tweets approximately.


Only one of the 22 trends positioned in the three countries simultaneously comes from Nicaragua, referring to the presidential elections in this country, with at least 75,959 messages; it was used by various actors to report on the process of denouncing electoral human rights violations, making propaganda for Daniel Ortega, among others.


Our Executive Director also pointed out that next year we will expand our monitoring of the conversation to El Salvador as it is a country that, unfortunately, has been advancing very fast in the limitations to freedom of expression online and its analysis could reaffirm that authoritarianism does not depend only on political ideologies.


“Any type of action against freedom of expression in the region ends up affecting all of us because these regimes are somehow learning how to control information, particularly online, which is something new”, concluded our Director.


Click here to see the full presentation of our report “Twitterzuela 2021: Propaganda and Disinformation as State Policy”.

Go to all articles
  • Other related contents

  • 01

    #FakeLikes: The manipulation behind the alleged banning of Maduro on social media

    The Venezuelan regime's new strategy to viralize false censorship online

    Read more
  • 02

    In Cuba, violence is reported on Facebook

    Increase in violent crime on the island is registered on social media

    Read more
  • 03

    Resistance online: Nicaraguan civil society against Ortega's "Peace Law"

    The answer for 2018 is a "Peace Law".

    Read more
  • 04

    Food online: in Cuba food arrives through the Internet

    Online sales are an option in the face of food shortages, although it is not viable for everyone.

    Read more
  • 05

    #CubaSinRepresión: The island is still in protest

    Human Rights organizations fight for the release of political prisoners

    Read more
  • 06

    Discreditation failed: civil society defends Rocío San Miguel online

    Citizens support Rocío San Miguel in the face of disinformation from the Regime

    Read more
  • Subscribe

    Subscribe to our weekly newsletter