Chavista tweeting troops generate 39 million tweets monthly to lie about Venezuelan reality

Chavista tweeting troops generate 39 million tweets monthly to lie about Venezuelan reality

Published on 17 Mar 2023

The ruling party tweets propaganda and disinformation at an alarming rate

The year 2023 began with a lot of social and political movement in Venezuela, both in the streets and in the digital world. The protests for salary demands that worsened in January, led by the teachers’ union and public workers, resulted in an increase in state propaganda to divert attention from the lack of governmental response, excusing itself in the economic sanctions as a response to the economic and social crisis that continues to grow in the country.

At ProBox we not only documented this narrative promoted by chavismo, but we also identified how the State radically changed the discourse to talk about progress and prosperity during the Caribbean Series held in Venezuela, again using cultural events to simulate supposed progress in the country as happened in 2021 with the Guinness Record of the National Orchestra System. In fact, according to our records, economic sanctions and the Caribbean Series have been the two main narratives of the government so far in 2023.

The Venezuelan regime has been polluting Twitter for years with propaganda and disinformation but every day that is getting worse. In February 2023 the amount of accumulated messages in the trends promoted by the Ministry of Popular Power for Communication and Information (MIPPCI) increased considerably, causing the domination and imposition of the ruling party in the Venezuelan socio-political conversation on Twitter to be even more significant over the rest of the actors involved.

Empty propaganda: the escalation of the MIPPCI thanks to the twitter troops

The MIPPCI is the main entity of chavismo when it comes to promoting propaganda and communicational campaigns on Twitter, being the ones who daily promote a hashtag of the day that is massively replicated by the “twitter troops”; this group of accounts coordinated inauthentically among themselves, are responsible for generating thousands of messages daily to position and amplify the tags promoted by the MIPPCI without contributing to the conversation, receiving monetary bonuses from the State according to their performance, openly violating the Twitter rules and contaminating the Venezuelan conversation with their propaganda, so that the reality denounced by citizens is difficult to find or even fails to position itself as a trend and its digital reach is minimized.

Since last year we have noticed how the trends promoted by this entity have been increasing in the number of messages they manage to accumulate, starting in August where we recorded the first significant increase. Between January and July, MIPPCI promoted an average of 36 trends and around 6,467,956 messages per month, which in itself are already worrying figures, but from August to December that average rose to 39 trends and 24,375,237 tweets accumulated monthly, an increase of only 4 trends, but 276.86% more than the number of tweets produced per month.

In 2023 this increase is maintained: in January MIPPCI promoted 42 trends and almost 27 million messages in these, while in February they decreased the number of trends to 39 but increased by 45.92% the accumulated messages with about 39,149,830 tweets; that is, 12.3 million tweets more than January, being the month with the highest number of messages grouped by this actor since April 2021 when they reached almost 48 million messages.

On average during February MIPPCI managed to accumulate around 1,003,841 tweets per positioned hashtag, but the average number of messages coordinated inauthentically or made by possible automated accounts also increased from 91.9% in January to 95.91% in February.

An example of this occurred at the Super Bowl on February 12, when the trend promoted by MIPPCI, #DíaDeLaJuventudPatriota, accumulated 5 times more messages than the two most used trends in this sporting event that is one of the largest worldwide.

This shows us how the State maintains the coordination and use of Twitter troops to promote propaganda, misinform about the Venezuelan reality and promote pro-regime narratives that overshadow the conversation promoted by civil society or any other actor seeking to position their issues in the digital conversation.

So far in March

Although February’s increase is significant, so far in March, the conversation promoted by MIPPCI has escalated even more due to the great campaign on Hugo Chávez on the 10th anniversary of his death. In the first 15 days of the month we have registered 16 trends promoted by MIPPCI that have totaled approximately 27,250,000 tweets; that is, 1,703,125 tweets on average per trend, almost 700 thousand more messages on average than during all of February.

In addition, on March 8, within the framework of International Women’s Day, MIPPCI promoted the hashtag #ChávezFeminista which added up to approximately 2,210,000 tweets, being one of the trends with the highest number of accumulated tweets promoted by MIPPCI. At least 97.43% of the 2.21 million tweets were generated in a coordinated non-authentic way or by possible automated accounts.

On March 12, activist Luis Carlos Díaz evidenced a common fact about the massiveness of this inauthentically coordinated conversation: while the Academy Awards were being broadcast live, the hashtag promoted by MIPPCI accumulated more messages than those of this event televised live in more than 100 countries.

However, on March 15, the hashtag promoted by this governmental entity once again surpassed the record of tweets accumulated in an officialist trend promoted by the regime’s tweeting troops: #ChávezHechoMilliones totaled approximately 2.35 million tweets, being the hashtag with the highest number of messages promoted by the MIPPCI since we began to formally study the Venezuelan socio-political conversation in 2019.

If this rhythm in the officialist conversation continues, we could register a new record of messages promoted by this actor, which leads us not only to remember the importance of maintaining citizen digital activism to position narratives that allow us to counteract this propaganda and position the reality that is lived in the country, but also to highlight once again that in social media not everything massive is real.

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