Issue briefs and reportsJun 5, 2020
Operation Carthage: How a Tunisian company conducted influence operations in African presidential elections
By Andy Carvin, Luiza Bandeira, Graham Brookie, Iain Robertson, Nika Aleksejeva, Alyssa Kann, Kanishk Karan, Ayushman Kaul, Tessa Knight, Jean le Roux, Roman Osadchik, Esteban Ponce de Leon
A Tunisia-based company operated a sophisticated digital campaign involving multiple social media platforms and websites in an attempt to influence the country’s 2019 presidential election, as well as other recent elections in Africa. In an exclusive investigation that began in September 2019, the DFRLab uncovered dozens of online assets with connections to Tunisian digital communications firm UReputation. On June 5, 2020, after conducting its own investigation, Facebook announced it had taken down more than 900 assets affiliated with the UReputation operation, including 182 user accounts, 446 pages, and 96 groups, as well as 209 Instagram accounts. The operation also involved the publication of multiple Francophone websites, some going back more than five years.
Ayushman Kaul was a research assistant for South Asia at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) based in India. Ayushman is an analytically minded political risk and international relations specialist with a strong focus on issues relating to security, intelligence and political risk in the South Asian regional context. When he is not depressing his friends and family with daily updates on the Kashmir conflict or the increasing likelihood of the next global conflagration, he likes travelling, writing poetry and playing sports.