In Macedonia’s shadowy “fake news” industry, it seems that what goes around comes around. As 1.8 million eligible voters in that Balkan state mull their options in a September 30 referendum on changing the country’s name to end a long dispute with Greece, the country that found itself accused of helping flood U.S. voters with bogus stories in the 2016 presidential election that brought Donald Trump to power is itself awash in a social-media influence campaign. “Boycott the referendum.” “Don’t destroy Macedonia.” “Zaev is a traitor.” Those are just some of the messages analysts say are circulating on fake social-media profiles in a bid by opponents of the “yes” vote encouraged by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev that could open the door to NATO and European Union membership.
“The boycott campaign is not coordinated by a dominant political party, but it is being advanced by multiple actors without central control, making such fake news sites promoting them more important. In addition, the issue is highly polarizing, and thus invites such ‘reporting,'” Florian Bieber, a professor of Southeast European studies at the University of Graz in Austria, told RFE/RL.
Western officials have repeatedly warned of Russian efforts to discourage EU and NATO ambitions within the former Eastern Bloc, including through Internet trolling and other tools of “hybrid warfare.”
But no smoking cyberguns have emerged to implicate Moscow in the current Macedonian debate.
Full Article: Macedonia’s ‘Fake News’ Exports Now For Domestic Consumption.