A new propaganda channel has popped up in Uzbekistan’s internet landscape. It seems they are buying Twitter and Facebook followers, and spreading disinformation.
The site of Uzbekistan News has not yet launched, but their Facebook and vKontakte timeline already says something about the type of content they will be broadcasting. Positive features about children winning contests, a rumination on the beauty of the Uzbek flag and reports on the activities of Gulnara Karimova’s Fund Forum are linked to.
Both the Facebook page and the Twitter page of Uzbekistan News currently have around 10 500 followers. Quite a lot for a site that hasn’t even launched.
When we look at the profiles of who is following the site on Twitter, it becomes obvious quickly that the followers are bought, since most profiles are empty, send out no tweets, and are only following a few people.
Another story posted on the site’s Facebook timeline tells about a deadly virus breaking out in Uzbekistan. Apparently, even a touch of a diseased person is enough to kill someone within a few days. While some blame aliens, Gulnara Karimova is quoted with a perhaps more plausible answer: the virus has been man-made by Tajikistan and let loose in the rivers flowing to Uzbekistan. The article concludes that Russia, with its large population of migrant Uzbeks, should be careful.
Implicating Tajikistan and scaring Russia to keep Uzbeks in their own country: a double whammy for the Uzbek propaganda machine. Uzbekistan-News looks like it might give outside observers a wonderful inside view inside the workings of the domestic Uzbek PR machine.