WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 17, 2019) – Arizona State University’s McCain Institute for International Leadership, Looking Glass, and Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) presented their preliminary findings of their pilot project on Tracking and Refuting Disinformation in Georgia to policy makers, domestic and foreign government officials, and civil society organizations working to identify, analyze, and counter information warfare in Georgia.

The closed door presentation was made in Tbilisi and focused on historical Facebook data (Jan. 1, 2017 – Dec. 31, 2018), which included 43 anti-Western Facebook pages with over 756,323 followers and six major disinformation and propaganda themes: anti-EU, anti-NATO, anti-US, Extreme Nationalists, LGBT, and NGO. Contextual analysis of the data showed an ongoing increase in volume of extreme nationalist narratives.

“One of the important findings is the extreme nationalistic themed posts contain multiple anti-Western messages, anti-NATO, anti-liberal, anti-LGBT, anti-NGO messages, and often included hate speech and/or call for violence,” Shota Gvineria,  EPRC’s Security Policy Lead and the co-author of the study.

“Our initial findings point to an increasing trend found not only in Georgia but throughout the region – Russia and extreme nationalists have found common ground in their social media campaigns anti-West messages. To counter these efforts we are establishing working partnerships with counterpart organizations in the region,” Fron Nahzi, Senior Director of Global Development and Director of the disinformation project.

On July 8th  the project will present their findings on the current disinformation and propaganda efforts at the McCain Institute in Washington, D.C. The presentation will look at both historical and current data.

About the Georgia Disinformation Project

In November 2018, The Department of State’s Global Engagement Center awarded the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University (ASU) and ASU’s Looking Glass a one-year grant to track and refute disinformation in Georgia. The McCain Institute and Looking Glass, an advanced digital data mining program, are partnering with the Tbilisi-based advocacy-driven think tank Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC), and Rustavi 2 (R2), Georgia’s largest private TV station, to identify, analyze and refute anti-Western disinformation spread by Russia.

About the McCain Institute for International Leadership

The McCain Institute, founded in 2012 as part of Arizona State University, is located in the heart of Washington, D.C. Inspired by the leadership of Senator John McCain and his family’s legacy of public service, the McCain Institute is a non-partisan, action-tank dedicated to advancing character-driven leadership and civic engagement in the U.S. and abroad. The Institute advances security, economic opportunity, freedom and human dignity.  Learn more at mccaininstitute.org and follow along at #InTheArena