Iran's disinformation machine
False online content has erupted in the wake of escalating U.S.-Iran tension
Countries like Russia and China might be dominating the disinformation game, but Iran is emerging as an important player on the scene, warn two experts following the country's online tactics.
"Iran is certainly historically a less effective actor in the disinformation space but is increasing its own disinformation efforts," said Lindsay Gorman, a fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan national security initiative in Washington.
"Iranian efforts have focused less on sowing general discord and more on promoting specific narratives that are often against the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel," Gorman told CBC Radio's The House.
False online content — shared in a deliberate attempt to deceive the public — has erupted in the wake of heightened military tension between the U.S. and Iran, infiltrating social media and legitimate sources of news.
BuzzFeed News reporter Jane Lytvynenko closely tracked disinformation swirling on the web since Iranian General Qassem Soleimani's death last week.
Her work has uncovered a disturbing range of content, including doctored images, aggressive social media campaigns and even video game footage claiming to depict the moment Soleimani was killed.
But Lytvynenko said it's not always easy to determine where disinformation is coming from — or who is behind it.
"Iran is a disinformation actor that likes to throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks," she said. "We've reported on some of their efforts before and some of them have been very successful and very sophisticated."