Politics

How Kandiashvili’s Espersona Administers Facebook Groups and Pages

26 December, 2019

The Myth Detector has revealed a scheme through the open sources, showing how Espersona, an online edition created by Georgian Dream’s PR technologist Koka Kandiashvili, administers Facebook groups and pages involved in the campaign of discrediting the government’s opponents, critical media and other actors.

Which groups are administered by Espersona?

Espersona’s Facebook page administers at least 14 groups (incomplete list) in social media, among them a Facebook group “ბიძინა ივანიშვილი ჩემი თანამოქალაქეა!" (Bidzina Ivanishvili – My Fellow Citizen). One of the group admins is Natia Beridze, who worked as a journalist for Espersona created by Koka Kandiashvili and quit the editorial board on December 20, the day when Facebook imposed sanctions on the pages affiliated with Georgian Dream. Natia Beridze was also featuring in the story on government trolls prepared by Mtavari TV.

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Besides “Bidzina Ivanishvili – My Fellow Citizen,” Espersona administers at least 13 other groups. These 14 groups have absolutely different content and are targeting the audiences with different interests.  

Name of the group

Number of members (as of December 24, 2019)

Date of creation

ბიძინა ივანიშვილი ჩემი თანამოქალაქეა! (Bidzina Ivanishvili – My Fellow Citizen, administered by Natia Beridze, former journalist of Espersona) 409 596 5 April 2012
საგიჟეთი (Madhouse) 28 888 4 December 2014
ჩვენ გვიხარია ცხოვრება (We are happy to live) 227 389 23 May 2015
მსოფლიო ამბები (World news) 269 664 23 May 2013
აქ ყველაფერია (Here is everything) 172 506 25 May 2015
ჯგუფი (Group) 209 760 3 August 2014
ბედნიერი საზოგადოება (Happy society) 183 762 14 April 2014
გაიხალისე ცხოვრება (Make your life positive) 409 598 3 March 2015
სიყვარული (Love) 24 592 11 February 2015
გულიანი ხალხი (Kind-hearted people) 47 575 31 July 2014
პოლიტიკური ჯგუფი (Political group) 26 227 16 December 2014
ახალგაზრდობა (Youth) 50 729 21 June 2013
ჩვენი თაობა (Our generation) 44 790 19 January 2015
დრო (Time) 45 558 10 March 2016
 

 Who administers the group “Bidzina Ivanishvili – My Fellow Citizen?”

Along with Natia Beridze, the group “Bidzina Ivanishvili – My Fellow Citizen” is administered by fake Facebook account (troll) Oto Kuchava and two pseudo-media pages - Daily News and Info-page

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Troll Oto Kuchava with Leonardo DiCaprio’s image uploaded as a profile picture administers all the fourteen above-mentioned groups. In two (Love, Youth) out of 14 groups, another troll Liza Didiberi was also identified, who steals a model’s photos uploaded from the Internet. 

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Oto Kuchava’s profile was linked with pro-government troll, Avtandil Kereselidze. The latter, in turn, administered the pages discrediting the opposition, among them “იყავი და გაგეკეთებინა” (You had been there and should have done), “ჩვენთვის არავინაა” (Nobody is for us), “პოლიტიკური სანაგვე” (Political landfill), “პოლიტიკური იუმორი” (Political humor). Along with these pages and Avtandil Kereselidze, troll Oto Kuchava also administered other pages. The Myth Detector has earlier identified Avtandil Kereselidze as a government troll, who used the photos of Karo Manukyan living in Yerevan. After Karo Manukyan reported to Facebook, Avtandil Kereselidze’s profile was removed.

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Which other pseudo-media pages administer Espersona’s groups?

Seven pseudo-media pages were identified that administer 13 pages along with Espersona. All the seven pages were created in a period between October and December 2019. Six out of seven pages note “Journalist” in their description section and one page named “News” describes itself as “Personal blog.” These pages do not post information on their own pages; neither do they indicate their URLs; however, they are quite active in the groups administered by Espersona. The analysis of the groups administered by these pages has revealed other groups administered by the profiles or pages affiliated with Espersona’s groups. Considering their names, these pages are positioning themselves as media outlets, but actually, they are operating with hidden identities and do not create any media content.

Pseudo-media pages affiliated with Espersona that are co-admins of the groups administered by or affiliated with Espersona

Name of the page

Date of creation

Daily News 2 December 2019
Info-page 3 December 2019
Media bobo 21 November 2019
News-სიახლეები 12 November 2019
Ambebi 13 December 2019
Wnews 7 November 2019
სიახლეები 31 October 2019
News. 11 December 2019
News Post 5 December 2019

Which groups are administered by “ქუჩის აკადემია” (Street Academy) and Temo Zadoevi?

Other admins of the groups administered by troll Oto Kuchava and Espersona also administer some other large groups. Two same pages and profiles “ქუჩის აკადემია” (Street Academy) and user Temo Zadoevi were identified as other admins of the groups administered by them. Six more groups (ქურდული (Thievish), უფალო შეგვიწყალენ (Lord have mercy), უნივერსალური (Universal), პოსტალიონი (Postman), ნევროზიანი (Suffering from neurosis), გართობა (Entertainment)) administered by them have Bakur Svanidze, author of pro-Russian Georgia and World, as a moderator.

Groups run by the admins of the groups administered by Espersona (incomplete list)
The list contains those groups, which are not directly administered by Espersona, but are administered by the profiles or pages affiliated with Espersona.


Name of the group

Number of members

Date of creation

ყველაფერი (Everything) 188 677 12 May 2014
თინეიჯერები (Teenagers) 751 25 May 2015
აუ ჩემი კაი (Oh Hell) 93 081 28 April 2016
საინტერესო (Interesting) 68 773 11 April 2018
განსხვავებული (Different) 74 379 15 April 2015
უნივერსალური (Universal) 74 744 28 February 2017
ყველა ერთად  (All together) 74 933 28 March 2018
პელაგონი (Pelagon) 79 417 29 March 2018
უფალო შეგვიწყალენ (Lord have mercy) 74 163 11 April 2018
პოსტალიონი (Postman) 84 141 28 March 2018
გართობა (Entertainment) 75 292 18 January 2015
ნევროზიანი (Suffering from neurosis) 79 679 29 March 2018
ქურდული (Thievish) 76 561 29 March 2018
 

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Activities of the pages administered by Espersona

9 of identified 14 groups are public and 5 groups are private. The analysis of public groups shows that the following groups have been most active over the past year:  მსოფლიო ამბები (World News), გაიხალისე ცხოვრება (Make your life positive), ბედნიერი საზოგადოება (Happy society) and ჩვენ გვიხარია ცხოვრება (We are happy to live). 

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According to the interactive analysis, these groups were most active in May and October 2019.

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Examples of the posts released by the Espersona groups and affiliated pages

The groups administered by Espersona spread mixed-type information. Along with entertaining and religious information, the groups spread the links of Espersona’s news stories, political content as well as information supporting Georgian Dream and Bidzina Ivanishvili. Leila Tsinadze-Melikidze, Georgian Dream’s supporter, is quite active in these groups. She has been implicated in spreading fake news and discrediting opponents. She has also spread fake information about Eka Gigauri, head of Transparency International – Georgia, in the group “Kakha Kaladze Tbilisi Mayor.” 


 

Prepared by Sopo Gelava