MEK and Fake News

MEK and Fake News

MEK and Fake NewsDavid van der Wilde, NPO Radio, October 20 2019:… The Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) troll bunker A good example of this is the story of the MEK. An Iranian Mojahedin cult with its own troll bunker in Albania. The group even managed to come up with its own writer in addition to the propaganda tweets: Heshmet Alavi . A ‘writer’ who managed to publish his stories on The Daily Caller, The Diplomat and Forbes and thus even influence Trump’s policies. There are countless fascinating stories. These range from American useful idiots in the Mueller report, sent by Russian trolls with pocket money to demonstrate theatrically, to the “my tweet is right” by Marjolein Faber.  MEK and Fake News 

MEK and Fake NewsWhite House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case

MEK and Fake News 

Translated by Iran Interlink

Link to the original report 

Fake News !

October 20, 2019

David van der Wilde

The cabinet plans to combat fake news were presented in silence on Friday. A missed opportunity, thinks political editor David van der Wilde. “The Netherlands should be more concerned about it.”

Fighting fake news; on her arrival, Deputy Prime Minister Kajsa Ollongren saw it as one of her most important tasks. Substantial criticism immediately followed. The Minister of the Interior was called paranoid or declared to be Big Brother. And then it remained silent for months. Apart from an information campaign, fake news seemed to have disappeared from the agenda. Until this Friday.

” Heshmat Alavi Gate ” , Trump and MEK

The Politics and Social Media manipulation study was presented on the first day of the recess. On behalf of the minister, two UvA scientists looked into the state of digital debate. The conclusion? Not fake news but pulp, propaganda and fake followers cause the problems on the Dutch web.

With the relative silence and the noiseless report during the recess, the subject seems to be obscured. Tendentious sites such as DDS and GeenStijl crow victory and sceptics see their equal confirmed: That whole fake news story itself is completely fake. A special conclusion. Because whoever takes the trouble to read the research or to study the subject at all, sees something else.

“Faking the online debate on Iran”(Mojahedin Khalq, Maryam Rajavi, MEK, NCRI Trolling base in Albania exposed)

Getting worse

The researchers do have concerns about what they call ‘junk news’. The foreign culprits are not extremely active, but there are problems nationally. There is a warning for politicians and opinion makers with joke followers and it is found that it makes it easier for right-wing conspiracy theories to reach the mainstream.

Researcher Richard Rogers explains to me that pulp and hyperpartite ‘news’ is being shared more and more easily, particularly during elections. Something that, according to Rogers, ‘only gets worse’. He also points to the fact that, although social media companies remove fake news, they are very closed.

For example, it is not disclosed which accounts are blocked or deleted by the companies or removed or why. That makes it difficult for researchers and journalists to see and report abuses. That does not really help in an open and democratic debate.

MEK Iran Disinfo and Heshmat Alavi

Influence brigades

Yet that is only part of the threat. Last year I went into the world of digital influence for De Nieuws BV for a few months. What I found was a world of digital armies and state influence. That reality is seen not only by security services and politicians. Numerous studies, dashboards and publications show that the problem exists.

For example, a 2017 study by Cambridge University already noticed that at least 29 countries with their own digital influence brigades are active worldwide. In addition to Russia and Iran, for example, allies are also involved in this. Germany has the ‘Cyberkommando des Bundeswehr’ on the digital front line and the British are deploying their 77th Brigade on Facebook.

Whether the Netherlands itself plays an active role in influencing, I have unfortunately not been able to find out or disprove. We do know through articles in NRC, Green Amsterdam and the New York Times that we have been the target of Russian influence operations. Fortunately, no attempts were made in the last few elections.

A good example of this is the story of the MEK. An Iranian Mojahedin cult with its own troll bunker in Albania. The group even managed to come up with its own writer in addition to the propaganda tweets: Heshmet Alavi . A ‘writer’ who managed to publish his stories on The Daily Caller, The Diplomat and Forbes and thus even influence Trump’s policies.

Terrorists, cultists – or champions of Iranian democracy? The wild wild story of the MEK

The Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) troll bunker

A good example of this is the story of the MEK. An Iranian Mojahedin cult with its own troll bunker in Albania. The group even managed to come up with its own writer in addition to the propaganda tweets: Heshmet Alavi . A ‘writer’ who managed to publish his stories on The Daily Caller, The Diplomat and Forbes and thus even influence Trump’s policies.

There are countless fascinating stories. These range from American useful idiots in the Mueller report, sent by Russian trolls with pocket money to demonstrate theatrically, to the “my tweet is right” by Marjolein Faber.

The shadowy cult Trump advisors tout as an alternative to the Iranian government

So, influencing you and me with false messages and propaganda pulp is not a fairy tale. That we have seen no evidence of foreign influence in the last few elections is good news. But it does not mean that the threat has disappeared. The Netherlands should therefore be more worried. A little more spotlight on this report would not have been out of place.

David van der Wilde is a political editor for De Nieuws BV

End

MEK and Fake News

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Iran : Disinformation and Fake MEK Writers

Iran Disinformation and Fake MEK Writers Aljazeera News, June 17 2019:… As the Trump administration continues with its hawkish talk on Iran, we need to look at how that story is being crafted and by whom: Heshmat Alavi was once cited by the White House as a credible commentator on Iran. Shame he doesn’t exist. It turns out he is a fictional persona reportedly created by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), a shadowy group opposed to the Iranian government and supported by Washington. Iran Disinformation and Fake MEK Writers 

Heshmat Alavi Gate , Trump and MEK” Heshmat Alavi Gate ” , Trump and MEK

Iran : Disinformation and Fake MEK Writers 

On The Listening Post this week: Taxpayer-funded smears and a well-published but fake activist – worrying twists in the US-Iran online battle. Plus, the YouTube influencers of the Algerian protests

US-Iran debates: Fake writers and state-funded trolling

Tax-funded smears & a fake activist: worrying twists in the US-Iran propaganda war. Plus, Algeria’s YouTube influencers.

On The Listening Post this week: Taxpayer-funded smears and a well-published but fake activist – worrying twists in the US-Iran online battle. Plus, the YouTube influencers of the Algerian protests.

Iran Disinformation and Fake MEK Writers 

The US-Iran propaganda war online

As the Trump administration continues with its hawkish talk on Iran, we need to look at how that story is being crafted and by whom: Heshmat Alavi was once cited by the White House as a credible commentator on Iran. Shame he doesn’t exist.

It turns out he is a fictional persona reportedly created by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), a shadowy group opposed to the Iranian government and supported by Washington.

Then there is the Iran Disinformation Project funded entirely by the American taxpayer, ostensibly to counter Iranian propaganda, it trolls and sometimes smears Iranian-American commentators and journalists online.

And the government in Tehran is no innocent player in all this. It also tries to engineer what gets said and read online.

Contributors

Negar Mortazavi – consultant editor, The Independent
Maral Karimi – author, The Iranian Green Movement of 2009
Trita Parsi – founder, National Iranian American Council
Tara Sepehri Far – Iran researcher, Human Rights Watch

Iran : Disinformation and Fake MEK Writers 

Link to the source

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Also read:
https://iran-interlink.org/wordpress/white-house-mek-trolls-and-the-iran-case/

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran CaseJason Rezaian, Washinton Post, June 11 2019:… After the report, Twitter appears to have suspended the account. But the MEK, the organization that “Team Heshmat Alavi” represents, has a nasty history. It was on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations for years before being removed in 2012. These days, it has no discernible popular support in Iran and egregiously mistreats its members. Despite its history and negligible influence among Iranians, the MEK happens to have the support of many U.S. officials, including Trump advisers John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom have appeared as paid speakers at the group’s events. White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case 

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case MEK Cult Operatives Undermining American Democracy

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case

Why does the U.S. need trolls to make its Iran case?

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case

This weekend, a new wrinkle was added to the ongoing saga about the information war over Iran policy: the stunning revelation that an online persona that was cited by the Trump administration to justify leaving the Iran nuclear deal is likely not a real person, after all.

On Sunday, the Intercept published an investigation into “Heshmat Alavi,” a rabid supporter of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), a controversial Iranian opposition group. Since 2014, he had amassed a large Twitter following, which he apparently leveraged to attract interest in freelance submissions.

But according to the Intercept report, it turns out Alavi, the self-proclaimed “Iranian activist with a passion for equal rights” who claims to be “in contact with sources that provide credible information about the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” was a team of MEK members producing the content in Albania.

That didn’t stop Forbes, the Hill, Daily Caller and even the Voice of America from amplifying Alavi’s platform as a voice on Iran policy. All of these outlets, and several more, have published articles by Alavi that claimed the MEK is the main opposition to the current Iranian regime.

More disturbing than the articles, however, were the Twitter tirades that Alavi directed at established journalists who write on Iran — including me — referring to us “lobbyists,” “agents” and “collaborators” of the Islamic republic. These efforts actively sought to undermine our credibility about the best approach to deal with Iran and resorted to personal attacks in order to do so.

Apparently, libel isn’t a concern if you’re not actually a person.

After the report, Twitter appears to have suspended the account. But the MEK, the organization that “Team Heshmat Alavi” represents, has a nasty history. It was on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations for years before being removed in 2012. These days, it has no discernible popular support in Iran and egregiously mistreats its members.

Despite its history and negligible influence among Iranians, the MEK happens to have the support of many U.S. officials, including Trump advisers John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom have appeared as paid speakers at the group’s events.

The new revelations come less than two weeks after reports that the State Department had been funding an initiative called the Iran Disinformation Project, which was outed last month by Iran watchers for targeting and spreading lies about knowledgeable and experienced Iran commentators. The State Department suspended the funding to that initiative temporarily, but a full accounting of how taxpayer money may have been used against U.S. citizens — a crime under U.S. law — has not happened yet.

The Heshmat Alavi saga does not appear to be directly linked with the Iran Disinformation Project. But both operations raise similar concerns.

In both instances, the U.S. government — knowingly or not — aided in the flow of falsehoods perpetuated by opaque sources targeting U.S. citizens and attempting to discredit journalists and other commentators. And in both cases, the administration seemed to care more about advancing their views on Iran than about verifying the truth.

In the current atmosphere, any discussion of Iran that doesn’t explicitly advocate for the most severe measures against Iran — and, by extension, all people inside Iran — is branded apologia by supporters of President Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign. The MEK and Iranian Disinformation Project talking points have a captive audience here in the capital. So, too, do the rants of others echoing the most hawkish elements of the Trump administration’s Iran rhetoric.

But this is the United States of America. In this country, at least, we can and must have these conversations in the light of day, and maintain an atmosphere where we can openly debate and defend dissenting views without spreading falsehoods or slander. This is critical, not just for our democracy, but also for long-term peace and stability.

Political commentators have pointed to this rhetorical buildup against Iran as similar to the George W. Bush administration’s case for war with Iraq. But the comparison isn’t entirely apt: We are not at the same informational disadvantage we were as a nation in the lead-up to the Iraq War.

The current Iranian American population is much bigger than the Iraqi American population of the early 2000s. It’s better positioned economically in the society and has more political representation. And crucially, there is a flow of Iranian Americans who still routinely travel to the country. Social media is rich with images from inside Iran telling myriad stories.

So, instead of resorting to false narratives and personal attacks, we should cultivate our Iran policy — because there still isn’t a coherent one — the old-fashioned way: by making real arguments, backing them up with actual evidence and prioritizing real people over the tactics of manipulation and fraud preferred by authoritarians.

White House MEK Trolls and the Iran Case Fake MEK Writers 

Link to the source

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