Classics Guinea: pro-Condé Facebook pages create confusion before the presidential election

01:25  15 october  2020
01:25  15 october  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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President Conde (center) parades in Conakry, Guinea , on Oct. Facebook says the pro -government pages do not violate its standards. A company investigation showed that the pages are operated by real people with real identities, a company spokeswoman said by email.

Guinean incumbent Alpha Conde has won re- election after gaining an outright majority in the first round of a contested presidential vote, the country's Guinea 's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) on Saturday formally declared Conde the winner after he garnered 57.85 percent

Derrière les pages Facebook examinées, les « volontaires communicants » du RPG. © RFI / Carol Valade Behind the Facebook pages examined, the “communicating volunteers” of the RPG.

The Stanford Internet Observatory, an American research institute on disinformation and abuse on the Internet, has looked at around 100 Facebook pages linked to the Rassemblement du peuple de Guinée, the ruling party, or to its supporters.

According to the Stanford Internet Observatory study , Facebook pages linked to the RPG or its supporters do not promote "transparent politics or fair elections". The proliferation of accounts, automation techniques and the use of advertising would create the illusion of "massive and spontaneous support" for President Alpha Condé.

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Protests have erupted in Guinea 's capital Conakry following President Alpha Conde 's decision to postpone a referendum on changes to the constitution. The opposition says the changes would extend presidential term limits, allowing 81-year-old Conde to potentially govern for another 12 years.

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Behind the hundred Facebook pages studied by the American research institute are the “volcom”, the “communicating volunteers” of the ruling party. “Simple influencers without a contract or salary,” says Souleymane Keïta, deputy of the People's Rally of Guinea. However, according to several sources, they receive ad hoc support from senior executives or personalities. Some even went on strike at the start of the year to obtain phones, bonuses or their employment in the public service. Without success, they say.

Their motivation: to counter the opposition which, according to them, tarnishes the image of the country on social networks. It's about "defending the homeland," says one of their leaders, Charles Kolie. This consists for example of showing luxury hotels rather than shanty towns.

The Guinea Bloggers Association is concerned about an "industrial level of propaganda". Similar techniques could be used on a smaller scale by the opposition, including the dissemination of fake news. In 2018, six activists from both the majority and the opposition were jailed for "inciting ethnic hatred".

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