Suspicious Iranian web users spawn anti-Israel mudslinging campaign

Iranian web users targeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with passionate vitriol.

May 1, 2018 14:45
2 minute read.
Hacker in a hood

Hacker in a hood. (photo credit: INGIMAGE)


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A number of Iranian users turned to the internet to protect Iran's integrity by mud-slinging and discrediting Netanyahu's announcements about Iran's nuclear program as fiction. 

In light of Netanyahu's speech Monday evening, in which the prime minister revealed and elaborated on the significance of over 100,000 Iranian nuclear files procured through Israeli intelligence, Iranian internet users have turned to another domain to protect its international image.

Israel claims proof Iran "lied" about past nuclear program, April 30, 2018 (ReutersThe Israeli company Spot.IM, a social engagement platform that builds online communities around digital content, located 130 Iranian web surfers spreading false rhetoric regarding Netanyahu's speech in Iranian in discussions on US news sites.

This network of online users is comprised of Iranians posting multiple texts at unnatural rates on a number of different major US major news sources.

Nadav Shoval, CEO of Spot.IM, weighed in on recent developments: "We detected hostile activity. Usually we block the harmful users, so that the rest of the internet users enjoy discussion in a safe environment. But this time, we chose to expose the methods of one of the surfers operating from Iran in order to present a case study of their actions."

The company released a screenshot revealing activity from a web surfer from the city of Shiraz, Iran, in which he responded to three large US news sites that were addressing an English-speaking audience. According to the company, the response reflected a strategy for content distribution and the posts were produced at an unnatural rate.

"Israel has mixed lies with old information, misinformation, distorted information. From this cocktail lies came out. And the reason is to cover on the Israeli aggression of attacks in Syria and Gaza," read the post from the Iranian source.

Directly after this post, the same user replied to the message thread defending his own post. A second later, a surfer with a different name but who is believed to have the same identity posted a response on another news site with the exact same post.

Another post, released from a similar location in Iran, claimed that "Trump just declared that he rejects Netanyahu's claims due to a lack of credibility."

Shoval said that "a significant number of these users work with copy-paste, which makes it easier for us to identify them quickly using machine learning technology. Filtering on the basis of real-time writing is more difficult, because we are committed to providing a platform for a variety of views and worldviews. We usually analyze statements that are not pleasant or inaccurate, but in the end we identify users with inauthentic activity."

There have been no comments or statements regarding if the Iranian user was affiliated with the government or what his role is in the bigger context of this event.

Spot.IM was founded in the year 2012 and has raised over 37 million dollars. Each month, more than 400 million users are exposed to the company's tools installed in thousands of content sites in more than one and a half billion pages including Fox News, Forbes, AOL, Time INC, The Huffington Post, Sky, Oath and more.

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