Two weeks ago, Twitter published content relating to more than 770 such accounts in which more than a million social media posts, videos and photos had been circulated.
The Iranian regime has been involved with misinformation campaigns for very many years. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) have been on the receiving end of its tactics for decades and it is clear that the regime sees the Resistance movement as a very real threat to its survival.
The Twitter campaign blew up after the nationwide protests started at the end of last year. The people have been taking to the streets since December 2017 and have maintained momentum and pressure on the clerical regime.
Many of the posts on Twitter spread false information about the Iranian Resistance and were devoted to demonizing the opposition but it is also very clear that this is only a very small part of its campaign to quash its influence.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) revealed that the posts on social media started in 2012. The tweets – at least the most recent ones – have been using media coverage and what it describes as “friendly correspondents” to spread false information. People were pretending to be foreign journalists in an attempt to disseminate lies.
For example, one such tweet read: “NBC On Assignment with #RichardEngel commissioned these exclusive drone shots of the #MKO’s secret new base near Tirana in Albania. The #MEK are a shadowy group with a terrorist past they killed Americans in Iran in the 1970s and then fought alongside Saddam Hussein. Widely hated.”
Dozens of hashtags such as #BanMEK, #No2MEK, #BanTerrorOrg, and #IranHatesMEK were used at strategic times. In this case they were used before the Resistance’s grand gathering in Paris in June this year. The regime attempted to make social media users believe that the hashtags were started by people who were against the regime and the opposition.
The Resistance states that it has seen this tactic before: “This ploy is commonly used by the mullahs’ intelligence apparatus and cyber army, and by its mercenaries and sleeper cells, to confuse and to muddy the waters. At the same time, they claim that the PMOI labels anyone who opposes them an intelligence agent without provision of any proof.”
Through its social media campaigns alone, it is clear to see how much of a threat the Resistance is to the regime. The Resistance has a huge following both inside and outside the country. Contrary to what the regime tries to portray, it is huge, widespread and has support all over the world.