The communications department of the ruling “Georgian Dream” party created the Facebook page “In Reality” on June 9, 2021. The page claims that the platform aims to expose the spread of false information against the “Georgian Dream,” and features the slogan “Trust facts, not perceptions”. As of January 15, the page is managed by 5 administrators and has 6,700 subscribers. Since its creation, as of January 15, the Facebook page has distributed 35 videos and up to 225 cards.
The monitoring carried out by “Myth Detector” revealed the following trends about the modus operandi of the Facebook page “In Reality”:
- By labelling the opponents’ statements or actions as sexism, hate speech, anti-democratic and discrediting campaigns without any justification, the page of the ruling party devalues the concepts it appeals to;
- “In reality” often manipulates with religious and ethnicity-related topics;
- The Facebook posts of “In Reality” are actively covered by media outlets with pro-governmental editorial policy;
- The posts published by “In Reality” are distributed on two Facebook pages and 14 Facebook groups, 7 of which are directly linked to the Georgian Dream; Gia Abashidze, a government expert, shares posts in groups most frequently;
- Monitoring carried out by “Myth Detector” revealed that the posts published by “In Reality” are regularly distributed by persons employed in public agencies in Tbilisi and the regions, who are obliged to protect political neutrality by law;
- Civil servants employed in local self-government institutions, city councils, municipalities, administrations and town halls circulate the above-mentioned posts during working hours;
- Noteworthy that these people, in addition to “In Reality”, also share the posts of other pages affiliated with the “Georgian Dream”, pro-government media (Imedi, PosTV), pro-government experts and Facebook pages that are aimed at discrediting the party’s opponents (Archive, Mikheil Ukrainologist, Terenti Gldaneli)
- The posts “In Reality” are distributed by political officials from both Tbilisi and the regions. At the same time, in addition to spreading the post of “In Reality” posts, they also share posts containing anti-Western content and hate speech, and refer to persons critical of the government with homophobic slurs;
- Public servants and political officials disseminate the posts of “In Reality” in a coordinated manner. This trend is especially noticeable if the post is published by the Facebook page after business hours;
- In addition to the persons employed in public agencies, the posts of “In Reality” are also shared by party supporters en masse. These accounts also share posts of government members, and other pages liked to the “Georgian Dream,” pro-government experts and media;
- The process of disseminating the Facebook posts of “In Reality” also includes fake accounts that were identified by Myth Detector during the monitoring process;
- In the period from June 2021 to January 15, 2023, the Facebook page “In Reality” sponsored all – 224 posts. Less than $100 was spent on financing each post, indicating “Georgian Dream” as the sponsor;
- The page sponsored the most posts in May (29) and December (33) of 2022.
Evaluation Methodology and Selected Examples. Similar to fact-checking organizations.“In Reality” assigns different verdicts to its materials. In addition to the ones that concern the accuracy of the information (Disinformation, Falsehood, Lie), the Facebook page uses verdicts such as: False narrative, Anti-Georgian propaganda, Religious propaganda, Anti-democratic campaign, Hate campaign, Xenophobia, Violent rhetoric, Call to violence, Discreditation campaign, etc.
The page distributes its content mainly in the form of cards, where a verdict sign is placed on the photo of any given source, while the text accompanying the card exposes the disputed statement. However, verdicts, most of the time, are not based on factual evidence. Moreover, the page of the ruling party often tries to manipulate with religious and ethnic topics and label the opponents of the government and representatives of various democratic institutions as “anti-Georgian” or as a “religious propagandist” just because of their critical position towards the government. By using the labels such as sexism, hate speech, anti-democratic and discrediting campaigns without proper justification, the page of the ruling party devalues the concepts it appeals to.
For instance, on October 29, 2022, “In Reality” called the assessment of three leading monitoring organizations – Transparency International Georgia, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, and International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy – regarding the election of the chairman of the Senaki municipality council as an “anti-democratic campaign”. Moreover, the page called their action “discreditation of democratic institutions by rich NGOs,” when in fact, one of the functions of non-governmental organizations in a democratic system is to balance the government and critically evaluate their activities.
In addition to misrepresenting the role of non-governmental organizations, the ruling party’s Facebook page considers the request for public information about political officials to be a discreditation campaign. For instance, the post published on December 16 featured the letter of Tea Giligashvili, the producer of the TV company “Mtavari Arkhi”, in which she asks the Department of Public Relations and Information of the Parliament of Georgia, based on the general administrative code, for public information about who financed the attendance of the members of the Parliament at the football match of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia in Italy. “In Reality” assesses this action as sending questions of “discrediting content” and reminds the channel of the court case about President Saakashvili that concerns the misuse of public funds.
In addition, the page often manipulates with religion-related topics. For example, the actions of “Transparency International” and “Fair Elections” are labelled as “religious propaganda” due to the fact that the mentioned organizations published Christmas and New Year greetings on the organization’s website on December 25, and not on January 7, when the Georgian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas. “In Reality” called this action of non-governmental organizations proselytism and the most inappropriate manifestation of religious propaganda, which, according to the page, is far from not only Christian morality but also Georgian culture. On the same topic, the post prepared by the online publication Civil.ge, mentioning that the Georgian Dream had sponsored a post on Facebook against 2 non-governmental organizations, was also evaluated by “In Reality” as “religious propaganda“.
“In Reality” accused the Georgian bureau of “Radio Liberty” of spreading conspiracy theories based on falsehood for the article published in connection with the Patriarch’s birthday, and criticized its journalist for selecting the theologian Beka Mindiashvili as a respondent, who, according to their assessment, is distinguished by “aggression and slander towards the church and the patriarch”. In the same post, the Facebook page recalled the old article published by “Radio Liberty” about King Erekle II, which it evaluated as “anti-Georgian propaganda” in November 2022 without any justification. Radio Liberty’s publication, under the title “Was Erekle’s wife unfaithful or was it a fake news in the 19th century?” concerned the fake news spread against the Georgian king; however, apart from”In Reality,” Radio Liberty was accused of discrediting the name of the king by government experts and other actors in a coordinated manner.
“In Reality” labelled the criticism expressed by civil activists towards the Prime Minister of Georgia, as well as the criticism of media managers towards the German ambassador to Georgia, as “hate speech”. Ana Dolidze’s post about the financial resources the leaders of the ruling party spent to go to the football match in Naples is labelled as “sexism” due to the use of the word “Kudracha”[playful girls]. The statement of the chairman of the Association of Young Lawyers, Nika Simonishvili, that xenophobia towards Russian citizens is an artificial problem created by the local authorities, has been labelled as the “encouragement of xenophobia“.
Due to the coverage of the New York Times article in the Georgian media, entitled “How Western Goods Reach Russia: A Long Line of Trucks Through Georgia,” “In Reality” on the one hand, accused New York Times journalist Ivan Nechepurenko of spreading disinformation and highlighted his Russian origin, on the other hand, blamed the Georgian media (Tabula, Mtavari Arkhi, Formula, TV Pirveli) – in the coordinated dissemination of disinformation. At the same time, the Facebook page of the ruling party dedicated a separate post to Giorgi Oniani, the deputy director of Transparency International Georgia, only because the latter shared the New York Times article on his Twitter account. Oniani was accused of pursuing an “anti-Georgian campaign”. On the other hand, the Facebook post of the Georgian Dream Communication Department was also covered by the pro-governmental media (Imedi, PosTV, interpressnews.ge). Based on pro-government expert Levan Nikolaishvili, other media outlets (pia.ge, lideri.ge, PosTV) published identical comments on the matter.
Targets. The Facebook page targets all those actors who express a critical stance towards the government, be it a civil activist, non-governmental and fact-checking organization, opposition politician, expert or media outlet. The targets of the ruling party, along with local media, are “Voice of America”, “Radio Liberty” Georgian Bureau and their journalists. Due to the latest article, a journalist from the “New York Times” also became a target of “In Reality.”
|Media||New York Times Journalist Ivan Nechepurenko
Radio Liberty, Voice of America, Civil.ge,
Formula, bm.ge, Mtavari Arkhi,
TV Pirveli, Primetime, Guriis Moambe and individual journalists.
|Non-governmental organizations||Transparency International, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, Georgian Young Lawyers Association,GRASS, Media Development Foundation, Open Society Foundation,
Economic Policy Research Center,
Center for European Studies of the Georgian Foundation of Strategic and International Studies,
Media Advocacy Coalition, Shame Movement, Women Engage for a Common Future.
|Opposition politicians||Nika Melia, Khatia Dekanoidze, Nona Mamulashvili – UNM,
Giorgi Vashadze – Strategy Agmashenebeli
Ana Dolidze – For People
Giga Bokeria, Giorgi Kandelaki – European Georgia
Zurab Japaridze – Girchi More Freedom,
Elena Khoshtaria – Droa
Mamuka Khazaradze, Lana Galdava and Salome Samadashvili – Lelo for Georgia,
Khatuna Samnidze – Republican Paty,
Natia Mezvrishvili, Mikheil Daushvili – For Georgia.
Tamar Kordzaia, Teona Akubardia – Independent deputies and others.
|The office of the Ombudsperson||Nino Lomjaria, Former Ombudsperson
Giorgi Burjanadze, Deputy Ombudsperson
|Former officials||Giorgi Margvelashvili, Former President of Georgia
Nona Tsotsoria, Former judge of the European Court of Human Rights
Londa Toloraia, Former State Inspector.
|Civil activists, experts and others||Giga Makarashvili, Shota Digmelashvili, Giorgi Tshavanadze, Tamar Chergoleishvili, Gia Khukhashvili, Sergi Kapanadze, Tina Khidasheli and others.|
Facebook Pages and Groups that Distribute the Posts
The posts published by “In Reality” are distributed on two Facebook pages (Alternate Free Social Media, Kavkazexress Digest) and 14 Facebook groups, 7 of which are directly linked to the Georgian Dream (Citizen – Non-Governmental Organization, Forward Georgia to a Better Future!!!, Citizen, Bidzina Ivanishvili – positive and negative, Winner Irakli Gharibashvili 41, Express your opinion, The path of truth).
The page Alternate Free Social Media mainly features posts of “In Reality” and other videos aimed at discrediting the “United National Movement.” The videos are taken from the YouTube channel of the same name.
The Facebook page Kavkazexress Digest positions itself as a media, and to gain more credibility, features the website kavkazexpressmediacompany.com. The website was created in January 2018, but as of January 2023, no article can be found on it.
Gia Abashidze, a pro-governmental expert, shares posts in groups most frequently.
Who shares the posts of “In Reality?”
Posts published by the Facebook page ”In Reality” are regularly shared by civil servants who are bound by law to maintain political neutrality, as well as political officials, party activists, and various suspicious accounts, who either conceal their identity or steal the identity of others.
A detailed example of sharing multiple posts is available here.
The monitoring carried out by “Myth Detector” revealed that the posts published on the Facebook page “In Reality” are regularly distributed by persons employed in public agencies in the regions and Tbilisi, who, according to the law, should maintain political neutrality:
- Civil servants employed in public structures have shared at least 5 and at most 47 (Karlo Kukhianidze) posts of “In Reality”;
- Civil servants employed in local self-government institutions, city councils, municipalities, administrations and town halls publish posts during working hours;
- 10 out of 16 civil servants identified as a result of monitoring are employed in the Terjola Municipality’s City Council and City Hall;
- One of the 16 civil servants (Ana Gvelsiani) indicates the City Hall of Chiatura municipality as her workplace, although no information about this can be found in open sources;
- Information about one of the 16 civil servants (Ivane Maruashvili) is no longer available on the website of Terjola municipality.
It is worth noting that these people share the posts of other “Georgian Dream” related pages, pro-government media (Imedi, PosTv), pro-government experts and Facebook pages that aim to discredit the opponents of the government (Archive, Mikheil Ukrainologi, Terenti Gldaneli).
|Civil servants sharing posts during working hours||Civil servants sharing posts during non-working hours|
|2. Sofio Sirbiladze (Terjola Municipality City Hall, second category senior specialist)||
|3. Natia Sakchidze
Head of the primary structural unit of the legal service at Terjola municipality
|4. Davit Mikaberidze, Zestaponi Municipality, member of the City Assembly|
|5.Giga Kublshvili, representative of the Mayor of Terjola
|6. Nona Chichinadze
Adigeni Municipality City Hall, Head of Administrative Service
|7. Laura Gabexadze
Terjola Municipality City Hall
|8. Archil Kochiashvili, Head of the supervision service of the Terjola Municipality
Head of the Union of Cultural Institutions of Akhaltsikhe
|10. Tariel Kublasvili
Representative of the Mayor of Terjola
|11. Salome Vaneli (Pakhuridze)
Deputy Head of Legal and Organizational Affairs Department of Vani Municipality Council.
|12. Kote Dzocenidze
Terjola Municipality City Hall,Specialist.
|13. Muradi Verulashvili
Representative of the mayor of Terjola
|14. Gurami Cirekidze
Representative of the mayor of Terjola
Assistant to the Mayor of Terjoli Municipality
|16. Ana Gvelesiani, according to the information indicated on Facebook, is the head of the child rights protection and support department at the Chiatura Municipality City Hall.|
Political officials from Tbilisi as well as from the regions have also been sharing the posts of the Facebook page “In reality”. At the same time, in addition to sharing posts, they also share posts containing anti-Western content and hate speech, and refer to persons critical of the government with homophobic vocabulary.
|1. David Alugishvili
Dedoplistskaro Municipality Assembly, Deputy Chairman. Shares a post that says Kelly Degnan sees Georgia not as a friend and ally, but as an asset to “spend” when needed.
|2. Lasha Gurgenidze
Terjola Municipality Assembly, Deputy Chairman of the fraction “Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia”. He refers to the general director of “Mtavari Arkhi” with the homophobic term “chicken.”
|3. Zaza Mgebrishvili, Adigeni Municipality Assembly, Chairman of the Commission. Used the homophobic term “chicken” against Musician Davit Gabunia. In addition, Mghebrishvili has shared the video fabrication of “Mikhail Ukrainologist” about Giorgi Vashadze, which was marked as fake by “Myth Detector”.|
|4. Merabi Zurabashvili
Aspindza Municipality Assembly, First Deputy Chairman. Used the homophobic term “chicken” against Musician Davit Gabunia.
|5. Vladimer Kurtanidze
Akhaltsikhe Municipality Assembly, Chairman of the Commission. Shares a post that says Kelly Degnan sees Georgia not as a friend and ally, but as an asset to be “spent” when needed. In addition, Kurtanidze has shared posts with homophobic content, where businessman Temur Chkonia is accused of supporting LGBT propaganda.
|6. Lasha Lanchava
Terjola Municipality Assembly, Chairman of “Georgian Dream – Conservatives” fraction. He refers to the general director of “Mtavari Arkhi” with the homophobic term “chicken.”
|7. Irma Zavradashvili Member of the Parliament.
Shares a post claiming that “rabid LGBT, dirty pederasts and Nazi provocateurs” are standing at the rallies held against the “Georgian Dream”, which has led the process of warming relations with Russia to a dead end.
|8. Mamuka Modebadze
Zestaponi Municipality Assembly, Deputy Chairman. Used the homophobic term “chicken” against Musician Davit Gabunia. Insulted Nika Gvaramia, the director of “Mtavari Arkhi” and posted the image depicting Gvaramia as a chicken.
Coordinated Dissemination of Posts
Notably, the posts of “In Reality” are distributed by public and political officials in a coordinated manner. This fact is especially noticeable if the post is published on the Facebook page after business hours. For example, in November 2022, one of the posts was published by “In Reality” at 20:04, which was then distributed by persons employed in public agencies with a short time interval (between 20:29 and 22:10).
In addition, the post published on December 9 was shared by employees of public agencies and political officials between 23:18 and 23:54.
In addition to the persons employed in the public agencies, the posts of “In Reality” are distributed by “Georgian Dream” party supporters. In addition to exposing the false information disseminated against the government, these accounts also share the posts of government members and other pages related to the “Georgian Dream”, pro-governmental experts, media, and anti-opposition pages.
|2. Taki Cici
|3. Tamuna Or
|4. Marina Xmaladze
|5. Bela Margishvili
|8. Shmagi Gavasheli
|9. Rusudan Dvali
|11. Gocha Beridze
|12. Sofo Labadze
|13. Nino Mgaloblishvili
|14. Malxaz Giorgadze
During the monitoring process, Myth Detector also identified fake accounts. Among them, one of the accounts (Rusudan Rusikoshka) manages the Facebook group “United National Movement should be prosecuted!” together with pro-governmental expert Gia Abashidze.
Similar to public servants, fake accounts disseminate posts published by governmental pages. It should be noted that the majority (8 out of 14 accounts) also share the posts of the Nadzaladevi District Administration.
Sponsored “In Reality”
In the period from June 2021 to January 15, 2023, the Facebook page “In Reality” sponsored all – 224 posts. Funding for each post costs less than $100, naming Georgian Dream as the sponsor. The page sponsored the most posts in May (29) and December (33) of 2022.
August and July
March and February
November and October
June, July and August