An active Anonymous Facebook profile under the name Sergi Melong describes itself as a non-partisan personal blog intended to voice for the voiceless of Bhutan. While also stating that it is not affiliated to any political party, group of individuals. It also puts a discretion that the views expressed are purely personal. The profile page created on 21 June 2021 has 2349 likes and 2566 people following it.
Such anonymous profiles are the most actors propagating disinformation for political and other reasons using faceless pages in effort to reverse information to its consumers. Going by most of the posts the page has and the date of its creation. The page was potentially created with political intend since the five years term of the current government is nearing the end with wind of another election blowing around the corner which is due next year.
The first post after its creation was a post alleging that the Druk Nyamrub Tshogpa (DNT) which is the current governing party as committing national budget to finance bye-elections. It also alleges that electorates are threatened justifying that the bye election will be won by DNT. The post was on 30 June 2021 when there was at three bye-elections in the process.
During COVID pandemics, it has always propagated against vaccination and implementation of lockdown. For instances, a post it made on 15 July 2021 warns on the governments idea of mix matching the vaccination as dangerous. In a following post on PM and other key figures taking the first jab of the vaccinations it says, “Just because PM or any prominent personal takes the first mixed vaccine doesn’t in anyway guarantee the safety of the population.” It has generated 29 comments and 18 shares and comments suggest there are people who agree to the idea. Another post picks on governments allocation of 11M to development works in the finance minister’s constituency. It says, “While nation is suffering from budget shortage for development activities due to pandemic, Paro dzongkhag(district) has no problem of budget because Finance Minister is from Paro.” It uses a picture of the finance minister with a word “Notorious thief of Bhutan.”
In a potential attempt to provoke internal rife in the party, it uses appoint of ministers in a reshuffle after a byelection. It describes the new minister for Information and Communication an incompetent person and the new home minister a rapist for having married his wife at an underage. It says that the PM has dishonoured the promise to make another MP from west a home minster while new home minister was appointed from east. “Ngalobs (westerners) are angry that important ministerial portfolio is given to Sharchop (easterner).” It has generated 76 comments and 17 shares.
Almost all of its post is targeted at the government and the prime minister highlighting failures of the government, propagating opposition and allegations to suggest the government and ministers as incapable to run the country.
|Prime actors:Anonymous as Sergi Melong |
|Transparency: It uses certain grounds of truths to maneuver and demean and discredit the government and its ministers and their actions. |
Intent: Politically aspersive.
|It targets the government and its ministers to demean and discredit their actions to garner distrust to the governing political party among the electorates. |
Harm: IT propagates suspicion and distrust among the electorates to the governing party and projects the current governing party and its leaders as incompetent and incapable.
Synthetic: The content was stretched with inaccuracy and distortion.
Narrative(s): The content is aligned with the disinformation and fake news narrative.
|Target audience:General Bhutanese population|
|Elections:It has a tone of pre-election political campaign to defame the governing party and its leading members. |
ABCDE Framework Analysis:
Often during election periods. Many anonymous social media accounts especially appear on Facebook and acts in favour or opposition to one or the other political parties. This anonymous actor names itself as Sergi Melong and acts in opposition to the current governing party.
The actor hides under a pseudo name and pretends to be a critique to the government to appear authentic and relevant to the followers.
All the contents it has generated and published since its creation was deceptive and untrue political campaign against the decisions the government has made or criticizing incapability of the government. It discredits government and picks on ministers by using defamatory narratives. For instance, in one of its posts, it projects the Prime Minister as the most dangerous doctor in the world.
The actors use inter personal weak points of the ministerial members of the governing party employing character assassination methods to weaken the individual scopes for future election while discrediting and demeaning the government of its actions and inactions to promote the government as incapable and incompetent.
The profile certainly looks like a pre-election political campaigning. It is using the pandemic situation as the key to attack the government’s incapability to handle socio-economy of the country to paint perception of needing change of government in the coming election. “Bhutan being small nation, we could have done very well with both economy and saving lives during pandemic time. This isn’t the case.” It writes in one of the post published with a picture headline; ‘Druk In Crisis,’ on the page. It potentially hopes to make some impact in the coming election although it is yet to see.
The Case has been identified as a case of Disinformation and possible influence operation. The person behind the pseudo name creates all kind of deceptive and untrue stories and narratives of disinformation likely to influence electorates from supporting the government in its upcoming election in 2023.
As self-censorship is the much-practiced case among the Bhutanese population, one due to the small population interlinked to each other. Resorting to anonymous characters on social media such as tweeter and Facebook is mostly seen as an option for those people wishing to express.
At the same time, it is noted that most of the anonymous social media users distort and reverse information to suit their own narratives propagating disinformation instead of the exercising the right to freedom of speech