Iran’s propaganda against Facebook and Twitter

The Iranian regime has been producing propaganda targeting social media Facebook and Twitter. These sites played a significant role in mobilizing opposition forces during the Iranian elections in June 2009. The election result was disputed and the process was fraught with government corruption. When the government chose to respond militarily, this led to riots.

Barbara Lochbihler, Chair of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Iran, said a year later, “since June 2009, when hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Tehran, the Basij militia and other security forces have been harshly cracking down on all opposition forces.” She added there had been “Mock executions, torture, rape, death sentences” and that “the record points to a terrible human rights situation.”

The Iran regime is now not only targeting opposition figures, and using its intelligence agencies to target dissidents abroad, it is now trying to smear social networking itself. It does this by preposterous accusations of Israeli control, American government control and “interviews” with workers who are silhouetted to protect their privacy and then make claims that they worked for Facebook in once case and Twitter in another, and that western intelligence agencies asked them to use the social networking tools so they could gather information on their friends. It also suggests the Mossad is behind these social media platforms. The allegations are so out of touch with the nature and reality of social networking, any one with an account will see straight through them. The are however designed to spread fear, and perhaps will keep new users off the social networking sites.

The Iranian regime started by arresting bloggers, and having agents spread a message that people should not trust Twitter. Over time they have been rounding up, arresting and in some cases killing dissidents who use social media. At the same time they run Press TV, an English language propaganda service masquerading as part of the free press.

Now they are going after the concept of social media itself. They want to put the genie back in the bottle and restrict information flow so that only the official message can get out, a message which like the elections they hope they can control. They aim to do this through fear, and this propaganda video is part of that process.

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