The battle on social networks: #YoNoBotoMiVoto vs. #EleccionesSoberanas2021
by Confidencial | Nicarágua
Por Mildred Largaespada
Updated 1 de December, 2021 at 11:20 am
That is how the FSLN organized itself for November 7th on the social networks after the removal of its troll farm
There was an intense debate on social networks in Nicaragua in which citizens talked about the November 7th votes concerning Ortega’s reelection with no political competition, and the alternative network established by Ortega supporters to disseminate its propaganda was revealed after the blow they suffered after Meta dismantled their troll farm.
It also became evident that the tweets published individually by white and blue Nicaraguans users reached more engagement than those published by users inside the FSLN propaganda network. Nevertheless, according to the Trendsmap measuring tool, which measures Twitter trends, the hashtags used by the regime had a higher presence than the pro-democracy hashtags.
However, the trick used by the regime was revealed by the Trendsmap analysis regarding the origin of the pro-Ortega hashtags and how they became trending topics: Ortega supporters asked foreign users with many followers to create content in favor of Ortega, promoting his hashtags in order to simulate a higher presence inside the country, since national accounts have no reach.
The first figure shows the trending hashtags in Nicaragua in the beginning of November 7th, with the majority of them circulating inside private groups of the pro-Ortega network and reaching the country’s trending topics on Twitter. However, when analyzing where the hashtag #EleccionesSoberanas2021 (which has been mentioned and promoted since November 5th) was on the rise on Twitter, we find that sympathizers of the left-wing populism network in Latin America are participating with the same hashtag.
Figure 1 shows the hashtags that have become a trend in Nicaragua in a first report at 2:30 pm on November 7:
When analyzing through Trendsmap where else this hashtag is being used, the alternative network established by the Ortega supporters is revealed. Accounts promoting pro-Ortega hashtags were registered in Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, such as that of the former Bolivian president Evo Morales (@evoespueblo), who posted a tweet promoting the pro-Ortega hashtag and reaching 1,590 likes and 720 retweets.
Blue and white hashtags: diverse and genuine
In contrast, the hashtags used by blue and white Nicaraguans were varied and did not correspond to an organized strategy to simulate a trend, instead indicating content created spontaneously on Twitter. One of the hashtags appearing in the first trend map is #YoNoBotoMiVoto, which achieved a significant presence in the country in the morning. The Trendsmap analysis of where else this hashtag has been used revealed the power of spontaneous content within the country. In addition, the hashtag also appeared in Costa Rica and Spain, where the Nicaraguan diaspora and political exiles organized demonstrations at that time.
This is the Trendsmap world map showing the hashtag #YoNoBotoMiVoto:
The strategies are revealed
Despite the greater number of unique users on Twitter who sympathize with the blue and white cause, two factors have prevented these users from being registered by the analytics tools as a trend on the social network: the fact that the different blue and white communities do not agree about the hashtags to use, and the fact that the accounts with the most followers are creating “blue and white” content, but without using the opposition hashtags. This shows that the digital conversation of the blue and white group is more organic and spontaneous, although it loses space because it is not simulated to be a trend.
On the other hand, hashtags promoted by the FSLN propaganda network organize themselves to pretend to be a trend and appear with no organic control among people chatting on social media in Nicaragua, who are mostly blocked due to their abusive and threatening behavior. As we have reported before, the pro-Ortega network on Twitter is a propaganda strategy that uses real and fake accounts to obtain a large number of likes, making their followers believe there are a lot of supporters of the regime, when that is not true.
* The Digital Democracy Room is a project of FGV DAPP in Brazil in partnership with Animal Político, Bolivia Verifica, Chequeado, Confidencial, Espacio Público, Linterna Verde and Ojo Público. It’s goal is to monitor and analyze the digital conversations regarding the electoral context.
The analysis is available the website of Confidencial here.