Anyone using Twitter over the past few days knows that the topic of the Iranian election has been the most popular. Thousands of tweets and retweets alleging that the election was a fraud, calling for protests in Iran, and even urging followers hack various Iranian news websites (which they did successfully). The Twitter popularity caught the eye of various blogs such as Mashable and TechCrunch and even made its way to mainstream news media sites.
Were these legitimate Iranian people or the works of a propaganda machine? I became curious and decided to investigate the origins of the information. In doing so, I narrowed it down to a handful of people who have accounted for 30,000 Iran related tweets in the past few days. Each of them had some striking similarities -
1. They each created their twitter accounts on Saturday June 13th.
2. Each had extremely high number of Tweets since creating their profiles.
3. “IranElection” was each of their most popular keyword
4. With some very small exceptions, each were posting in ENGLISH.
5. Half of them had the exact same profile photo
6. Each had thousands of followers, with only a few friends. Most of their friends were EACH OTHER.
Why were these tweets in English? Why were all of these profiles OBSESSED with Iran? It became obvious that this was the work of a team of people with an interest in destabilizing Iran. The profiles are phonies and were created with the sole intention of destabilizing Iran and effecting public opinion as to the legitimacy of Iran’s election.
JPost actually ran a story about 3 people “who joined the social network mere hours ago have already amassed thousands of followers.” Why would a news organization post a story about 3 people who JUST JOINED TWITTER hours earlier? Is that newsworthy? JPost was the first (and only to my knowledge) major news source that mentioned these 3 spammers.
JPost, a major news organization, promoted these three Twitterers who went on the be the source of the IranElection Twitter bombardment. Why is JPost so concerned about Iranian students all of a sudden (which these spammers claim to be)? I must admit that I had my suspicions. After all, Que Bono? (who benefits).
There’s no question that Israel perceives Iran as an enemy, more so than any other nation. According to a recent poll, more than half of Israel’s population support using military force against Iran if they do not cease from developing nuclear energy (which they have the legal right to do as per the NNP treaty). Oddly enough, this comes out of a country which is not a cosigner to the NNP treaty and has no right to develop nuclear energy, yet posses an arsenal of nuclear BOMBS.
Of course, Mousavi himself plays an important role in causing the social unrest within Iran. How often do you see a candidate declare himself the winner before any votes are counted and then, when faced with defeat, call the entire election process a fraud? As obvious as it was in our own 2000 election, Al Gore would not touch the topic of voter fraud. No major US politician goes near the subject. They know full well that such an accusation would shake the entire foundation of our democracy and threaten the political structures that are in place.
These twitting spammers began crying foul before the final votes were even counted, just as Mousavi had. The spammer @IranRiggedElect created his profile before a winner was announced and preformed the public service of informing us in the United States , in English and every 10 minutes, of the unfair election. He did so unselfishly, and without any regard for his fellow friends and citizens of Iran, who don’t speak English and don’t use Twitter!
[Update] JPost removes the evidence and issues a response
Meet The Spammers
3146 followers. 31 friends.
340 tweets in past 4 days. none before that.
Top 5 words - iranelection, cnnfail, mousavi, tehran,
All tweets in English
Time: Bulk between 12pm and 2pm eastern standard time
Most retweets: @StopAhmadi @IranElection09 @change_for_iran
14,000 followers. 0 friends
117 tweets in 2 days. none before that.
All tweets in English
Time: Bulk between 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm eastern.
Top 5 words: iranelection, people, police, right, students
800 followers. 9 friends.
196 tweets in 3 days. none before that.
185 in English. 11 in Farsi (Arabic appearing letters. Not sure if it’s Farsi)
Time: bulk between 2:00pm and 6:00pm eastern. Also 1:00am.
Top 5 words: iranelection, rt, mousavi, tehran, march
Most retweets: @IranRiggedElect @StopAhmadi
6199 followers. 53 friends.
1107 tweets in past 3 days. None before then.
top 5 words: iranelection, ppl, news, rt, iran.
All tweets in English
Time: bulk between 9:00am and 5:00pm eastern
Most retweets: @mohamadreza @mahdi
1433 followers. 142 friends
(protected account. cant see data)
The following all have the same photo in their profile and are followed by the profiles previously mentioned.
http://twitter.com/Change_for_Iran (14,000 followers)
http://twitter.com/IranElection09 (800 followers. 9 friends.)
Click below for the JPost Articledenial of service for users of the targeted system. (Recognize the avatar?) BUT….their latest spamming campaign (Against CS) is backfiring.
Spammers get a taste of their own medicine!: Block CS eh? It’s not us being blocked…..
[Update 4] The Guardian: Iran’s election result may not be fraudulent. Our polling suggests that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory is what voters wanted
[Update 5] Iran blocked access to twitter yesterday BUT that doesn’t stop the “Iranian Students” from continuing to tweet every 10 or so minutes.
[Update 6] Iranian intelligence arrested “Agents” within the country “who masterminded the recent post-election violence in Tehran.”
[Update 7] JPost removes the evidence and issues a response
[Update 8] Tehran- Riots orchestrated by enemies
[Update 9] Washington Post: “Twitter’s impact inside Iran is zero,” said Mehdi Yahyanejad, manager of a Farsi-language news site based in Los Angeles. “Here, there is lots of buzz, but once you look . . . you see most of it are Americans tweeting among themselves.”
[Update 10] CIA Factbook: Languages spoken in Iran: Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%. Sure, some of the more educated people (a small amount) do speak English but its not at all popular.
[Update 11] This post became one of the most followed, tweeted and retweeted stories regarding the #IranElection on the net yesterday. The 3 “Iranian Student” spammers specifically mentioned this post as did hundreds of others. So, um, where are the Iranians?? The screen shot below is of our traffic yesterday by country.
Disclaimer: Before I get attacked as being an Anti-Semite,you should know that I am half Jewish. Alternatively, I hope that people do not misinterpret this as some “JEWISH” conspiracy. It isn’t. These are the workings of the extreme right wing of Israeli politics. They have their own Bush’s and Cheney’s there too.