While we were focused on Russia’s malign interference in the American democratic process, we failed to notice that the Iranian Regime has significantly increased its technological advances with a view to affecting the results of elections both domestically and internationally.
Of course, we should note here that the Iranian Regime already enjoy significant control over the result of its elections, as one of its highest bodies makes the ultimate decisions on who can even run. However, the Regime can’t make these decisions for other countries so it resorts to more covert and sophisticated means, including disinformation campaigns.
The Iranian Regime has an entire network dedicated to spreading fake news and disinformation in various languages across social media. They create misleading headlines manipulate photos, and even fake video footage in order to discredit politicians that act against the Regime’s agenda.
Their plan is to encourage voters to elect someone that will appease the Regime and protect the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but also to undermine confidence in democracy.
In fact, Twitter recently revealed a trove of evidence that the Iranian Regime has been attempting to influence these elections, including 770 accounts that spread pro-Iran propaganda. While Facebook recently said in a statement that it had removed “652 pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behaviour that originated in Iran and targeted people across multiple Internet services.”
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh wrote: “The Iranian regime is engaged in inauthentic behaviour, spreading propaganda and disinformation campaigns on social media platforms in many countries.
But it is worth noting that two key targets of the Iranian leaders are the US and Saudi Arabia. American voters and the US government must be extremely cautious about Iran’s disinformation campaigns in the upcoming midterm elections. Iran must be held accountable for its propaganda campaigns in other nations.”
How to fight back
The most important thing to do if we wish to counter Iran’s malign influence is to raise awareness among the public that this is happening and encourage people to question the information they see presented as news on social media.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh wrote: “In addition, engineers, journalists, scholars, policy analysts and politicians ought to cooperate and set up a joint institution that can effectively detect and reverse engineer Iran’s destructive behaviour.”