CHARACTER ASSASSINATION, CONSPIRACIES AND MANIPULATION: Slovak presidential election through the lens of disinformation channels on Facebook
GLOBSEC Strategic Communication program conducted a research on presidential election in Slovakia with focus on disinformation. More than 1300 Facebook posts were analysed to find out how the disinformation sources on Facebook informed the public about presidential candidates, topics and events.
The most often mentioned candidate on the monitored disinformation channels on Facebook prior to the first round of the election was Štefan Harabin, followed by Zuzana Čaputová. Harabin was also portrayed most positively of all the candidates, with 60% of all the posts associated with him having a positive connotation.
On the contrary, Čaputová was portrayed most negatively of all the candidates and became the target of an intense anti-campaign and character assassination, particularly once Robert Mistrík gave up his candidacy and backed her on the 26th of February.
The most recurring narratives used on the observed disinformation channels in relation to the presidential election were “liberalism as a threat undermining the stability of society”, along with “election interference”, “conspiracy and hidden interests” and “mainstream media cannot be trusted”.
The deployment of these narratives was used not only to discredit the liberal presidential candidates but also to undermine Slovak citizens’ trust in the electoral process itself, priming disinformation channel audiences for the eventuality that their preferred candidate would not succeed, prompting them to question the democratic process itself.
This report was published in the framework of project run by the GLOBSEC and supported by the National Endowment for Democracy.