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Luis Assardo

Berlin, Germany
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About Luis
Luis Assardo is a journalist and researcher based in Berlin, Germany.
Founder of Confirmado, where he coordinates a team that fight misinformation. For 24 years has worked in paper, broadcast and online media. The last 10 has been leading digital newsrooms. Is an award winner for his investigations and research about troll factories, disinformation, radicalisation, hate speech and manipulation with electoral purposes.
As a professor teaches in many universities about digital journalism, multimedia, innovation, media business, and open source intelligence. Has been a fellow in Japan, Germany, United States and The Nederlands.
English Spanish
Audio package (Radio / Podcast) Interview (Video / Broadcast) Fact Checking
Technology Natural Disasters Media Training

Investigating Digital Threats: Trolling Campaigns

10 Apr 2024  |  gijn.org
The article discusses the evolution of internet trolling from a subcultural behavior to a business model used in information operations and military strategies. It highlights how governments and political entities have weaponized trolling to attack opponents and manipulate public opinion, citing examples like China's '50 Cent Army' and Russia's Internet Research Agency's interference in the US elections. The piece outlines tactics used by trolls, such as amplification through social media, hashtag hijacking, and emotional manipulation. It also provides a guide for investigative journalists on how to identify and analyze trolling campaigns, including the use of social listening tools, network analysis, and fact-checking resources. The article emphasizes the importance of ethical reporting and avoiding sensationalism when exposing trolls.

Four journalists included among the threats and risk factors for National Security

01 Jul 2023  |  luisassardo.medium.com
On July 1, 2023, reports surfaced that the Ministry of Defense of Guatemala suffered a critical ransomware attack, with 5.8Gb of data extracted. The Army spokesperson denied any link to military data, but specialized portals reported otherwise, attributing the attack to a hacker group named Cyclops. Recently, documents from the attack revealed that the Ministry of Defense considers media campaigns against the Guatemalan Army a national security threat, alongside drug trafficking and organized crime. The presentation included a list of journalists perceived as threats, including José Rubén Zamora, who is currently imprisoned, and Marvin Del Cid and Sonny Figueroa, who are in exile due to state persecution. The Ministry's lesson learned from the situation was that non-government-aligned individuals and organizations expressing discontent in the media is a result of the government's failure to enforce laws against them.

How Instagram Stories Are Changing the Way Media Organizations Engage with Their Audience

23 Sep 2021  |  International Journalists' Network
The article discusses the impact of Instagram Stories on journalism and media organizations, particularly in Latin America. It highlights the rapid growth of Instagram Stories' user base since its launch by Mark Zuckerberg in 2016, surpassing Snapchat's daily active users. The article emphasizes the importance of content quality and regular posting for media organizations using Instagram. It provides insights into how Instagram Stories can be used effectively for photojournalism, feature stories, news summaries, breaking news, and special events. The article also notes that while Instagram Stories may not directly generate site traffic, they are valuable for brand recognition and storytelling. Examples of successful strategies and the potential for growth in the use of Instagram as a content distribution platform in Latin America are also discussed. The author, Luis Assardo, is a journalist and digital consultant with international experience.

A Fact-Checking piece about Coronavirus.

Confirmado Podcast, where I talk about disinformation during Guatemalan elections.

The Impact of Bukele's Tweet-Decrees

07 Jun 2019  |  La Prensa Gráfica
El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele has gained attention and popularity on Twitter, using his account in an unconventional manner since taking office. A quantitative analysis, excluding qualitative content of tweets, measured the impact of Bukele's 'tweet-decrees.' Bukele, who opened his Twitter account in February 2009, has posted over 44,000 tweets, averaging about 12 tweets per day. Using tools like SocialBlade and Botometer, the analysis showed a significant follower increase, with over 90,000 new followers in just six days. The analysis also revealed Bukele's Twitter habits, such as exclusively tweeting from the iOS app and a high retweet ratio. Further analysis identified accounts frequently mentioning Bukele, with a notable group of accounts showing higher interaction levels, and the use of the hashtag #NayibBukele predominantly by media accounts.

What do we need to prevent deaths in a volcanic eruption

05 Jun 2018  |  Medium
The article discusses the aftermath of the Volcan de Fuego eruption in Guatemala and explores ways to prevent deaths in future volcanic eruptions. David Rothery, a vulcanologist and Professor at The Open University, provides insights on response times to lahars and pyroclastic flows, the role of local organizations like CONRED and INSIVUMEH, and the challenges of timely evacuations. Rothery emphasizes the importance of seismometers for early warning, the need for public awareness, and the difficulties in managing evacuations without causing distrust among the population. The article also touches on the need to revise procedures for disaster response, considering the rapid onset of volcanic eruptions and the balance between precautionary evacuations and the potential lack of subsequent eruptions.

Guatemalan troll factories

24 Feb 2018  |  Medium
Guatemalan troll factories, known locally as Netcenters, have evolved over the past decade from simple political propaganda tools to sophisticated operations capable of political interference, spreading fake news, and manipulating public opinion. Initially, these operations began in forums and newspaper comment sections, but they have since grown into well-funded organizations that employ tactics such as doxing to damage the reputations of journalists and political adversaries. The 2015 elections saw a significant rise in their activities, with troll factories being hired for character assassination and to influence public discourse. Notable cases include the cloning of a major newspaper's website to publish false articles and the use of social media to divert attention from political scandals. The article highlights the challenges posed by these entities to the integrity of information and the democratic process in Guatemala.

Netcenters: A Business of Manipulation

09 Feb 2018  |  Medium
Luis Assardo explores the evolution of Netcenters, from their origins in online forums to their current role in manipulating public perception on social media. Initially linked to electoral processes, these practices have become a profitable business involving 'digital hitmen'. The article details various cases in Guatemala and Mexico where Netcenters were used to defend politicians, alter perceptions about candidates, and inflate social media presence. Assardo describes the transition from simple fake profiles to sophisticated operations that include real profiles, fake profiles, and bots, aiming to mimic and attack real social movements. The article calls for legislative action to regulate these potentially criminal activities and emphasizes the importance of public awareness and journalistic responsibility in countering such manipulative practices.

Two former presidential candidates give their opinions on Jimmy's first year

13 Jan 2017  |  medium.com
Sandra Torres and Alejandro Giammattei, two former presidential candidates, provided their critical assessments of Jimmy Morales' first year in office. Torres condemned the lack of progress on social issues and called for the president to wake up and address the nation's needs. Giammattei struggled to find positives, criticizing the government's lack of a coordinated plan and weak institutional strength. Both highlighted the importance of political accessibility, noting that other candidates, including Morales, were unresponsive.

The vacation of José, the firefighter

27 Aug 2016  |  medium.com
José, a firefighter with 20 years of experience and recently appointed as the head of a rescue patrol, was looking forward to his first vacation in four years. However, his plans were interrupted by a hurricane emergency. Despite the difficult choice between family time and duty, José decided to join the rescue efforts. The story follows his experiences during the rescue mission, highlighting the challenges and emotional toll of disaster response. José's dedication to his profession and his family's support are emphasized throughout the narrative.

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