The Stanford Internet Observatory, a US research institute on disinformation and abuse on the Internet, looked at about 100 Facebook pages linked to the Rassemblement du peuple de Guinée, the ruling party or its supporters.
According to’Stanford Internet Observatory study, Facebook pages linked to RPG or its followers will not promote “transparent political life 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.
Behind the hundreds of Facebook pages surveyed by the U.S. research institute lies the “volcom,” the “communicating volunteer” from the ruling party. “Simple influencers without a contract or salary,” said Souleymane Keïta, deputy for the People’s Rally of Guinea, but according to several sources, they receive ad hoc support from senior leaders or personalities. Some even went on strike at the beginning of the year to get telephones, bonuses or their employment in the public service. Without success, they say.
Their motivation: to counter the opposition, which according to them tarnishes the country’s image on social networks. It is a matter of “defense of the fatherland”, explains one of their leaders, Charles Kolie. This consists, for example, of showing luxury hotels instead of small towns.
The Guinea Association of Bloggers is concerned about an “industrial level of propaganda”. Similar techniques could be used on a smaller scale by the opposition, including disseminating fake news. In 2018, six activists from both the majority and the opposition were jailed for “inciting ethnic hatred”.
Zoe Huczok, study author