Al Jazeera slammed for ‘one-sided’ reports on Iran protests

Many turned to Twitter to criticize Al Jazeera’s coverage of the unrest in Iran (Screengrab)
Updated 01 January 2018
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Al Jazeera slammed for ‘one-sided’ reports on Iran protests

LONDON: The Al Jazeera network has been slammed for its coverage of recent protests in Iran, with critics claiming the Arabic station was slow to cover the events, and later offered reports that side with the “terrorist” regime in Tehran.
Iran has seen a wave over protests that continued on Monday, a day after at least 10 people were killed in violence across the country.
The unrest began as demonstrations against economic conditions but quickly turned against the Islamic regime as a whole, with thousands marching in towns across Iran to chants of “death to the dictator,” AFP reported.
But despite widespread global coverage, the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera network was singled out for its handling of the crisis.
Qatar is part of the Gulf Cooperation Council but its alleged ties to Iran have been a major factor in a diplomatic dispute with neighbors including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Many turned to Twitter to comment on Al Jazeera’s apparent delay in reporting on the unrest in Iran.
Twitter user Khaled wrote: “Al Jazeera, your correspondents in Iran are sleeping, they are not sending you any news.”
Others claimed that Al Jazeera had ignored the voice of the Iranian opposition.
One wrote on Twitter: “Why don’t you cover remarks from the Iranian opposition, as you claim to be the channel of opinion and the opinion of the other? You are zionists of the era.”
Twitter user Milad Al-Otaibi wrote that Al Jazeera had showed its “real face” in masking the “sound of freedom and the truth.”

Another wrote that Al Jazeera “claims it was with the people during the Arab Spring, but when it came to the Iranian winter, it sided with the repressive, terrorist Iranian regime against the oppressed people.”

The barrage of online criticism moved Yasser Abuhilala, managing director of Al Jazeera News, to defend the network.
“Do not accuse Al Jazeera of ignoring the protests in Iran,” he tweeted. “Al Jazeera’s coverage is done professionally and these campaigns increase confidence in the channel as a reliable, professional … source. The viewer judges impartiality and they are what matters to us.”

Yet others said Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Iran protests showed the network’s long-rehearsed tactics.
Abdellatif El-Menawy, an Egyptian media analyst, said Al Jazeera had a “absence of neutrality” in covering political events across the region as a whole.
“The most obvious case was during the January 2011 demonstrations in Egypt, where the channel was (clearly a non-neutral) player. (That is what they are doing) today with the demonstrations in Iran, exaggerating what they want to exaggerate and underestimating the presence of the other side. Such a thing happened in Syria too when they took on events to impose a certain vision.”
While most of the criticism was aimed at the Arabic-language channel, others said Al Jazeera English had also changed its tone in recent years.
Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, said: “I remember in 2009, Al Jazeera English was the go-to channel for people in the West to follow the Green Revolution in Iran and to get the latest updates. Nowadays it really does seem that, more often than not, AJE has become the go-to channel to get the Iranian regime’s viewpoint on the ongoing uprising. The change in editorial tone is markedly noticeable.”
Al Jazeera did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.


Twitter publishes tweet trove from ‘clumsy’ Iran regime campaigns

Updated 18 October 2018
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Twitter publishes tweet trove from ‘clumsy’ Iran regime campaigns

  • Twitter found 770 Twitter accounts that it traced back to Iran
  • Nearly 4,000 accounts affiliated with Russian troll farm

WASHINGTON: Twitter published a trove of some 10 million tweets that it said are potentially the product of state-backed operations by Russia and Iran, shedding new light on the scale and nature of misinformation campaigns mounted by the two nations.
Twitter said on Wednesday that it had identified 3,841 accounts affiliated with the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll farm” that has been indicted by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller for attempts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
It found another 770 Twitter accounts that it traced back to Iran.
“We are making this data available with the goal of encouraging open research and investigation of these behaviors from researchers and academics around the world,” Twitter said in a statement on its “elections integrity” site.
In total, the exposed accounts shared more than 10 million tweets and 2 million images and videos, Twitter said, before being taken down.
Twitter had already made public the existence of tweets it believes to be the product of foreign misinformation campaigns, but the release of the tweets themselves on Wednesday will allow researchers to learn much more about Russia and Iran’s disinformation efforts on Twitter since 2016.
It comes less than one month before US Congressional elections which are already the subject of foreign-directed social media campaigns, according to senior US intelligence officials.
The release shows that both the Iranian and Russian operations started out as campaigns to support countries’ governments at home, but the Moscow-based effort expanded into an “offensive weapon” targeted at the United States, said Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, which has seen the tweets.
“The Iranian operation was clumsy. It tried to use social media to draw people toward pro-regime messaging sites,” said Nimmo, whose lab published a detailed analysis of the tweets on Wednesday.
“The Russian operation was much more skilled. It masqueraded as real Americans to turn real Americans against Hillary Clinton, and against each other,” Nimmo added, referring to Donald Trump’s presidential election challenger.