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Monitoring Online Democratic Discourse in Georgia. Case Study: International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)

Over the past 15 to 20 years, Georgia has faced widespread disinformation and propaganda campaigns, many of which began long before the issue came to the fore globally. The impact of these disinformation campaigns multiplied as Georgia’s rates of internet penetration doubled between 2013 and 2020. And the impacts increased, even more, when campaigns moved more online during the COVID-19 pandemic.  A vibrant civil society has been exploring the effects and patterns of disinformation since 2015, with an emphasis on anti-democratic, anti-EU and anti-NATO narratives. Since elections often provide a fertile ground for disinformation, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) monitored the information environment during the 2018 presidential elections in Georgia. Their monitoring effort expanded to an ongoing and long-term effort to understand and improve democratic discourse online, during and between elections. This case study explores key findings and lessons learned from ISFED’s work across multiple electoral cycles.