The Manipulation Campaign Against France: A Threat to the 2024 Olympic Games
Published on 11/13/2023 8:12 p.m. | Updated on 11/13/2023 8:51 p.m. | Reading time: 1 min
More than 1,600 negative posts in 24 hours. Viginum, an organization dedicated to combating foreign digital interference, has accused actors linked to Azerbaijan of orchestrating a manipulation campaign against France. According to Viginum, this campaign has tarnished France’s reputation as the host of the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games. The organization, which operates under the Prime Minister’s authority, released a report on Monday, November 13.
The investigation was initiated on July 26 when a large number of visuals calling for a boycott of the Olympic Games-24 were detected being widely shared on X (formerly Twitter), as stated in the report.
This investigation took place amidst diplomatic tensions between Paris and Baku. In recent months, France has been actively involved in mediating the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, two former Soviet republics. The ongoing conflict, which has lasted for thirty years, has raised concerns about Armenia’s territorial integrity being violated by Azerbaijan. France’s support for Armenia has drawn strong criticism from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev.
Viginum’s report provides further details, stating, “These publications featured images of riots or the city of Paris, along with the official Olympic Games logo, three verified X accounts of the JOP-24, and the hashtags #PARIS2024 and #BOYCOTTPARIS2024.”
Between July 26 and 27, over 1,600 posts containing these visuals or hashtags were published on the platform. Viginum identified 91 accounts believed to be responsible for these posts, suggesting the presence of artificial amplification. Some of these accounts exhibited inauthentic characteristics in terms of activity and profile criteria. Notably, Viginum discovered that 40 of these accounts were created in July 2023 and exclusively published content calling for a boycott of the Games.