We have already told you about websites under the shelter of sports media, which often spread disinformation or propaganda materials instead of sports news.
In the first article, you talked about NTV network. Now, I will tell you about the football network that uses the IP address 220.127.116.11 in Moscow.
Footbal.ge was registered on May 10, 2020, by Tato Adeishvili. Adeishvili is 29 years old. No real estate, company, or individual entrepreneur status is registered in his name. We contacted Adeishvili. He told us that he created the websites, but did not manage them himself.
Adeishvili named some Irakli as the owner of the websites and gave us his phone number. Irakli confirmed to us that this network belongs to him, but did not tell us his last name. Then he explained that these websites are subdomains of each other and it does not spread disinformation. You should not pay so much attention to one or two accidental fake stories published for attracting visitors.
“I do not post information, it is uploaded, for example, the journalists I have and I do not know whether it is thoroughly checked or not. It will be controlled from now on. I do not write these articles. You may see one or two unverified pieces ofinformation on my site, such as those that are also covered by television, but which are fake, and this only happened for the sake of clicks,” Irakli told us.
In addition to footbal.ge, 7 more such subdomains are registered on the same IP:
These sites are identical in both visual and context. All of them were registered between May and July 2020. Footbal.ge appeared on the stage for the first time.
We asked Irakli, the owner of the footbals network, why his websites have the name of sports media.
I made this site for placing ads of “Adjarabet,” “Europabet.” They are all clickbait websites. I also had Georgian commercials, “BetLive” I think. I needed so many subdomains because Facebook loses views from one website. That is why it is necessary for the subdomain to reach more people,” Irakli explains.
The clickbait system means the income received from placing advertisements of various companies on the website. Every time a user goes to an ad, the site owner/administrator receives a fee from the advertising company.
This is why increasing the number of page visitors is also very important for these types of pages. To do this, they mostly use scandalous, buzzy headlines and spread misinformation that will attract many people. They are often involved in the long chain of dissemination of propaganda materials and are also the source of other websites. Among the disinformation materials spread by them is the following news about the coronavirus healing medicine; The story of the murder of a 34-year-old prostitute in Tbilisi; a new killer insect that kills when touched; the call of Arno Khidirbegishvili, editor-in-chief of Sakinform, “If you do not want to die, do not have a quick test and do not let yourself to take you to the hospital; government gift to children – every child will receive GEL 50 aid; Alia newspaper propaganda material about coronavirus; “Alia” article about Ninutsa Makashvili, with a changed title, where the title speaks about Ninutsa Makhashvili’s betrayal, but the text gives a completely different story; America’s 15 most perverted female teachers exposed for having sex with a student.
We often find comments about encouraging violence below the material posted on Facebook groups. The administration does not remove such comments.
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You will also find heartwarming stories and videos about Bidzina Ivanishvili on these pages. “I owe Bidzina Ivanishvili that my wife is alive today” – What does Gia Khukhashvili say about Ivanishvili and what does he remember about their first meeting?; “Totally different Bidzina Ivanishvili”; Giorgi Gakharia’s heartbreaking story – how he cried after hearing the story of a girl returning from abroad, etc.
The materials from these websites are spread into 5 groups: as Irakli told us, the groups are rented and he pays a monthly fee. These groups, in total, have more than a million members.
- Sakartvelos Gulshi (322,100 members );
- Exclusive (169,700 members );
- Positive (253,100 members );
- ქართული ჯგუფი / Georgian Group (233,900 members );
- Tskhovreba Mshvenieria <3 (179,100 members)
Like other ClickBite sites, fake accounts post information in these groups. These accounts change every few months. The material distribution strategy has also changed in recent months. For example, if previously the link to the website was directly shared, now they only share the photo, and they put a link changed by a special program in the caption. This, too, is presumably a strategy designed to cover orchestrated unauthentic behavior, so that Facebook administrators do not block their pages for spreading fake news.
We also asked Irakli about the dissemination of materials via fake accounts in the groups and about a new strategy:
“So, you are interested, who is sharing these materials, why are there ake accounts? Well, who will share it with real accounts? Profiles are often blocked. We use bitly.com for materials shared in groups as it looks more beautiful and to avoid a long original link. The material shared with the original link loses its reach. As for the orchestrated behavior, I hear it from you now. “
After we contacted Tato Adeishvili and Irakli, they disconnected 7 subdomains and now nothing can be found there. Only www.footbal.ge is valid.
We would like to remind you that due to the orchestrated dissemination of fake information, Facebook has blocked more than 1,000 accounts and up to 50 groups in Georgia in recent years. Among them were the pages of “S Persona” created by Koka Kandiashvili and the advertising agency “Panda”. Both of them were engaged in pro-government propaganda and spent hundreds of thousands of GELs on Facebook ads. Their goal was to influence the population and political processes.