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Issue #1896      November 27, 2019

Twitter fake accounts supporting Bolivia coup

Tens of thousands of fake Twitter accounts were created to support the military coup against Bolivia’s elected president Evo Morales, a new study suggests. Spanish party Podemos’s head of social networks Julian Macias Tovar says that over 68,000 false accounts were set up to try to legitimise the army’s overthrow of Morales following his re-election last month and to justify the massacres of protesters against the coup that have followed.

The study notes that, of far-right Bolivian coup-backer Luis Camacho’s 135,473 Twitter followers, more than 55,000 were users created in the last 18 days. Camacho was among those who ransacked Morales’s house following the coup and declared that “Pachamama [Mother Earth] will never return to the palace.”

The self-proclaimed interim President Jeanine Añez, invested by military chief Williams Kaliman despite being sworn in by a parliament that had no quorum with its Morales-supporting majority absent, was also boosted by the creation of around 40,000 new Twitter accounts in a 15-day period.

Twitter says it prohibits the use of bots to amplify messages and its apparent indifference to the new accounts contrasts with its political intervention against the left in Venezuela, where thousands of government supporters’ accounts were closed down in order to create the impression that most Venezuelans supported self-declared “president” Juan Guaidó.

Twitter took similar action against the government of Cuba in September, when Communist Party leader Raul Castro, other government figures and departments, and scores of journalists had their accounts closed. Similar mass account closings targeting Chinese users also happened around the Hong Kong protests.

The scandal emerged as Bolivia’s coup government admitted it was having trouble supplying the capital with food and fuel as pro-Morales demonstrators have occupied many of the roads leading to it. Hydrocarbons Minister Victor Hugo Zamora said petrol supply columns were having difficulty reaching La Paz because of roadblocks and ditches dug by pro-democracy protesters.

The government has killed an estimated 23 demonstrators since seizing power. Ousted President Morales said from his exile in Mexico that it appears to be preparing to withstand a siege.

Church leaders in the country are trying to broker talks around new elections with Morales’s party, the Movement Towards Socialism.

Twitter had not responded to requests for comment.

Morning Star

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