The former president of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, considers that he lost the presidential elections last autumn also due to Facebook, which allegedly deleted the likes he received and blocked the accounts of his party members. Ironically, the allegations were made in a video streamed on Facebook.
Dodon thus joined a wave of attacks against these networks, launched in several countries, from Russia and EU member states to the United States.
NEWS: PSRM President Igor Dodon claims that social networks have become a tool for directing public opinion and this tool is in the hands of certain forces, which take the liberty of censoring some and favoring others."I’ve been in different situations related to accounts on social media. We have had hundreds of cases when the Facebook accounts of PSRM activists and supporters were blocked. Do you remember what happened in the US when the former president's account was blocked? Social networks have become a tool for influencing public opinion and this tool is in the hands of certain forces. This tool is very often used and not all participants benefit from equal conditions. Unfortunately, this cannot be controlled. There were situations when the likes on my accounts were deleted. We saw how our opponents got higher ratings, and our members the other way around”, Dodon said in his Friday online show.
His statements were quoted by the official website of PSRM, but also by a large number of media outlets, both from the group of those who are considered to be their supporters, and by the press that criticizes PSRM, but also by some tabloid sites.
Igor Dodon also stated that "his opponents in the presidential election invested 10 million euros in social networks, without declaring these expenses, as required by law" and that social networks influenced the presidential elections in the Republic of Moldova, which he lost.
NARRATIVES: 1. Social networks (especially Facebook) influenced the results of the presidential elections in the Republic of Moldova. 2. Social networks (Facebook) are a threat to democracy. 3. Maia Sandu won the election incorrectly.
LOCAL CONTEXT / ETHOS: The former President of the Republic of Moldova (2016-2020) lost the presidential election at the end of last year, although he was considered a favorite. His popularity seems to have been affected because of this, the latest polls placing Maia Sandu for the first time on top of the list in terms of citizens' trust in politicians.Igor Dodon, who controlled the government and the parliamentary leadership during the elections, suggested in several cases the idea of a conspiracy against him and questioned the fairness of the election. However, the elections were validated by the Central Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court.
Igor Dodon's statements are similar to those of another losing president, Donald Trump, to whom he refers.In fact, Donald Trump's main communication tool, his Twitter account, was suspended after the assault on the Capitol on January 6, when the former president was accused of instigating protesters. The decision to suspend the account has been widely commented and even criticized, with some of the strongest criticism coming from countries whose leaderships have been blamed over time for anti-democratic slippage and efforts to bring the independent press under control. In fact, even Dodon recalls that "some countries have begun to regulate the operation of these networks, but says that it would not be a solution for the Republic of Moldova.
Late last year, the Russian Duma registered a bill to regulate the introduction of bans on major US social networks such as Facebook and Twitter following complaints from some media outlets such as Russia Today, RIA Novosti and Crimea 24 about the suspension of some of their accounts.Hungarian and Polish authorities have also recently announced that they want to fight what they call censorship on the Internet, after former US President Donald Trump, supported by the conservative governments in Budapest and Warsaw, had his Facebook and Twitter accounts suspended.
However, it should be noted that although Igor Dodon is currently complaining about Facebook, he previously paid great attention to his presence on this social network, which attracted thousands of Indian citizens among his followers. It has even been suggested that he increased its popularity on Facebook by purchasing "likes".
OBJECTIVE: 1. To present social networks (especially Facebook) as a danger to democracy. 2. To prepare the ground for bans, restrictions on the activity of certain social networks, or to limit access to the Internet as it has been done in other states. 3. To present Maia Sandu's victory in the presidential elections as a "conspiracy" against Igor odon and not the result of the citizens' vote. 4. To defend the idea that Maia Sandu rigged the presidential elections.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: There is no evidence that any of the companies that own social networks were involved in the election campaign in the Republic of Moldova or in any other country; in fact, until Igor Dodon's statements, no one talked about a possible influence on the results of the presidential election. In addition, none of these companies can have any stakes in the Republic of Moldova (the market value of Facebook, for example, is as big as Moldova's GDP over several decades)The amount of 10 million euros that Igor Dodon's opponents allegedly spent on promotion on Facebook in the presidential elections is unsubstantiated. According to the data presented to the Central Electoral Commission, Igor Dodon's candidates in the presidential elections spent together, for all the needs of the electoral campaign, less than one million euros.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: Social networks are becoming more and more influential in election campaigns and in a growing number of countries around the world.
THE NARRATIVES BENEFIT: Igor Dodon, PSRM