Tags: iran | propaganda | fake news

Iran's Global Network of Fake News Websites Exposed

Iran's Global Network of Fake News Websites Exposed
(Alexey Novikov/Dreamstime.com)

By Friday, 07 December 2018 02:02 PM Current | Bio | Archive

When we hear the expression "fake news" we automatically think President Trump and his tweets. President Donald J. Trump has raised our sensibilities about news that is not quite accurate, if not downright false. Our antennae are up. We watch news and read news with a fresh and renewed sense of skepticism.

The impact can be devastating. We're not talking about simple, mistaken facts. That happens, it's even excusable. We're talking about knowing what you're doing and disseminating intentional lies. Fake news has an objective. And that objective is to guide the viewer, reader or listener audience along a path of skewed information. Purveyors of fake news have a vision for the future and they want to take the unsuspecting public along a journey.

Fake news goes by another name — that other name is propaganda. The Germans perfected the art under Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Minister of Propaganda from 1933-1945. Hitler himself was a major proponent of fake news. The entire Nazi message was structured to portray Jews as vermin, as a people that was taking over the world, as human beings who were destroying and contaminating German blood and culture. And they were wildly successful. They were deathly successful.

In the South Pacific, miles away from Europe but at about the same time that Nazis were running their propaganda mill, American GIs were getting their own dose of fake news. They were being harassed by a Japanese radio host dubbed Tokyo Rose. Actually, Tokyo Rose was not one single woman or voice, she was a collection of women who passed around the radio mic. That way, day in, day out and night after night, the Japanese were able to speak to the GIs — to entice them, to trick them. Their goal was demoralizing U.S. troops.

Fast forward to today. Fast forward to Iran. The fake news being disseminated by Iran makes the news that upsets the U.S. president look trivial, even childish. Iran is behaving exactly like the Nazis did and doing what the Japanese did. Iranian leadership is actively trying to alter the news narrative. And, like their role models, they are succeeding. Those who fall under their spell have no idea that the news they are being spoon fed is 100 percent, pure and unadulterated, fake.

ClearSky, a Tel Aviv based cybertech security firm, just issued a very telling report. Skeptical as we are of Iran, the results should not be surprising. Rather, they should confirm what we always thought, what we intuitively knew but could never — until now — put our collective Western finger on.

According to the report, Iran is operating fake news sites around the world. They are funneling news and information through those sites for the express purpose of influencing opinion. Many of the sites have names that include the words "Times," "Journal" and "News," buzz words within the news industry — an easy sell for Iranian propagandists.

ClearSky discovered 98 Iranian fronts, in 29 languages, in 28 different countries. The obvious targets of this Iranian ploy were the Middle East and Asia. But the Iranians have also set-up sites that target the United States and Europe. They even have a site in Hebrew targeting Israelis. That Israeli site was given the catchy name of the Tel Aviv Times.

The content on these fake news sites is almost cookie cutter. A rewrite of real news, but with a twist. The twist is that Iran is always portrayed positively. In addition to hard news, the sites also include cultural sections and human interest sections with less propaganda and less spin. ClearSky knew what they were looking for and the sites were actually easy to discover. In an atypical and uncharacteristically sloppy move, the registration information and contact information on many of the sites was Iranian.

Iran has taken today's fake news to a new level and different level. They have taken it back to Goebbels. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to stop them. The internet allows for far more crazy things to be published and aired than Iranian propaganda.

So what are we to do? Being skeptical of every piece of information we receive is no answer. The other extreme, blindly believing every piece of information we receive, is no better. We must find the middle ground. Untruths can only be destroyed by shining light on the lies. We all need to carry flashlights.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.

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When we hear the expression "fake news" we automatically think President Trump and his tweets.
iran, propaganda, fake news
Friday, 07 December 2018 02:02 PM
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