2018 Elections

  • #ElectionWatch: Bots and Boosters in Mexico

    Mexican political party the New Alliance (Nueva Alianza, or PANAL) has been benefiting from significant online amplification by a cluster of activists and probable Twitter bots, in the countdown to the country’s July 1 election.

    As part of our ongoing monitoring of Mexican political dynamics, @DFRLab analyzed a number of hashtags supporting PANAL. We found a mixture of bots and highly-active human accounts which, together, gave a major boost to the campaign’s hashtags — enough to significantly distort the traffic.

    Read the full analysis on Medium.

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  • Colombia "Turns The Page" With Presidential Election

    Alina Dieste, Tomás González, and Juan Carlos López all hailed the election of Iván Duque as the next President of Colombia as a historic success for Colombian democracy. Duque, of the right-leaning Democratic Center party, beat left-leaning candidate Gustavo Petro, fifty-four percent to forty-two percent. The June 17th election was the second round of the contest, after no candidate reached the fifty percent threshold during the first round on May 25th.

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  • #ElectionWatch: Eyes on Colombia from Venezuela

    The Colombian elections have spurred significant interest in Venezuela, as evidenced by the social media activity of accounts based in the country or managed by Venezuelans.

    #ElectionWatch researchers looked into this activity. There is more evidence of coordinated social media efforts between Venezuelan opposition supporters and Colombian right-wing groups, than between the Colombian left wing and Chavista supporters.

    The most successful tweet from Venezuela to Colombia, however, was a false story, which once again highlights our concerns about the misinformation flows in these elections and their political use.

    Read the full analysis on Medium.

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  • #ElectionWatch: Bees Cause Buzz in Colombia

    A week before the election, people attending a campaign rally for presidential candidate Iván Duque were attacked by a swarm bees. A number of high-profile Uribe sympathizers blamed supporters of Colombia Humana’s Gustavo Petro for the attack. The Cesar department police chief quickly debunked the accusations. 

    The Atlantic Council's #ElectionWatch team analyzed the case and the flows of information online. Like the case with the #FraudeElectoral hashtag, partisan users were willing to push deceptive narratives, without regard for the availability of verified versions of them. What is even more worrying, is that the work of fact-checkers and journalists is not being shared widely enough for debunking lies on social media.

    Read the rest on Medium.

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  • #ElectionWatch: Down Ballot Bots in Mexico

    In a little less than a month, Mexico will elect not only a new President, but also 128 members of the Senate and 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies. Ahead of the elections, researchers have observed the use of bots, both commercial and political, deployed for the purpose of promoting candidates, campaign materials, and opposition research on social networks. This is not the first election in Mexico shrouded in social media manipulation and likely not the last.

    The use of bots in Mexico is not limited to one political party and seems a more general practice. The majority of research on social media manipulation in Mexico ahead of elections focused on the Presidential race, but much less attention was paid to automatization in senatorial campaigns.

    Read the rest on Medium

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  • #ElectionWatch: Fraud Claims in Colombia

    After the first round of voting in Colombia’s presidential election on May 27, citizens took to social media to share claims of ballot tampering in favor of leading candidate Iván Duque.

    The conservative Duque won the first round with 39 percent of the vote, comfortably ahead of progressive rival Gustavo Petro, who garnered 25 percent. The two rivals are to face one another in a runoff on June 17.

    Read the rest on Medium

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  • #ElectionWatch: Russian Bots In Mexico?

    In the buildup to Mexico’s presidential election on July 1, reports have been circulating of “Russian bots” amplifying political messaging in Mexico, raising fears of Russian state-backed interference, such as was seen in the United States in 2016.

    @DFRLab has investigated these reports. We have been unable to verify claims of large-scale bot activity emanating from Russia. We have found one apparently Russian botnet boosting Mexican political messages, but this botnet appears to be commercially-run, boosting posts from a wide range of countries and on a wide range of subjects.

    Read the rest on Medium

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  • Neither Free nor Fair: What to Do About Venezuela’s Presidential Elections?

    Last month, the Venezuelan government fast-tracked the presidential election, announcing April 22 as the official date. To explore the declining electoral conditions and the potential for international engagement, on February 21 the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center hosted a public event and released a new Venezuela poll of 800 in-country respondents that showed collapsing levels of trust in institutions and profound concerns over the economic crisis and food shortages.

    Jason Marczak, director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, opened the event with a  conversation with H.E. Carlos Reyes, the Colombian ambassador to the United States. Ambassador Reyes highlighted the history and the depth of the crisis in Venezuela, noting the urgent need for action by the international community.

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  • Conference Call: What Does the Lula Appeal Decision Mean for Brazil?

    On January 25, 2018, less than twenty-four hours after Brazil’s Fourth Regional Court of Porto Alegre voted 3-0 to uphold former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's conviction for corruption and money laundering, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin American Center hosted a conference call to discuss the political and economic implications for Brazil and across the hemisphere. The historic decision, coupled with the extension of his sentence from nine and a half to twelve years and one month, throws a wrench into Lula’s his political aspirations, and makes probable the former president’s incarceration. It adds an additional layer of complexity into one of the most important elections in recent decades. Lula, for his part, has refused to withdraw his candidacy and has vowed to continue contesting the court’s decision.

    Jason Marczak, director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, began the conversation by introducing Joseph...

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