Nearly 70,000 fake Twitter accounts were created to support the departure of former President Evo Morales in Bolivia, regional media reported late Monday.
According to a study by Julian Macias Tovar, head of social networks for the Spanish party Podemos, the false accounts were mobilized to legitimize the ouster of Evo Morales from power and justify the “coup”, Caracas-based broadcaster TeleSur said.
The accounts also boosted follower numbers of the main actors of the removal process, such as the head of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee, Luis Fernando Camacho, and Senator Jeanine Anez, the country’s self-proclaimed interim president.
“Analyzing the Twitter conversation about the coup in Bolivia promoted by @LuisFerCamachoV, I can affirm that it is also behind the fraudulent coup in networks with the creation of more than 60,000 false accounts to influence and spread fake news,” said Tovar in Spanish on Twitter.
He noted that Camacho’s Twitter account jumped to 130,000 followers from 2,000 in two weeks, with 50,000 of them created only in November.
The same pattern worked with Anez, who went from 8,000 followers to 150,000, of which 40,000 were recently created.
After his analysis, Tovar said he counted more than 68,000 different fake active accounts, which have not been detected by Twitter.
Twitter rules prohibit the use of robots to amplify messages.
Bolivia has been gripped by political turmoil since Morales, Bolivia’s indigenous former president, was forced by the military to step down on Nov. 10 after weeks of protests following elections on Oct. 20.
After he resigned, Morales accepted political asylum offered by the leftist government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico, arriving in the country two days after his resignation.
Before leaving Bolivia, he said on Twitter that he would eventually return to Bolivia with more “strength and energy”.
Meanwhile, opposition lawmaker Anez has proclaimed herself Bolivia’s interim president and has taken measures to crack down on pro-Morales demonstrators.
U.S. and many of its allies in the region such as Brazil and Colombia have recognized Anez’s presidency.
Morales, who has eschewed a significant footprint in Bolivia by reducing poverty more than 30% since he came to power in 2006, is now calling for a dialogue to calm the country.
He has urged international mediation in a bid to avoid civil conflict in the lithium-rich South American nation.
Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a special envoy to monitor the situation, a move hailed by Morales.
The death toll since Anez assumed presidency last week stands at 24.
Analizando la conversación en twitter sobre el Golpe de Estado en Bolivia impulsado por @LuisFerCamachoV, puedo afirmar que también está detrás del golpe de estado fraudulento en redes con la creación de más de 60.000 cuentas falsas para influir y difundir fake news.
ABRO HILO pic.twitter.com/gKVo3m1TQW
— Julián Macías Tovar (@JulianMaciasT) 17 Kasım 2019