The DFRLab, a US think tank, reported last month that a group of Iranian accounts launched a social media campaign against Israel during the 2021 Israel-Hamas conflict promoting the hashtag #COVID1948 that trended worldwide. According to the DFRLab report:
July 1, 2021 In April 2020, a set of Iranian accounts began promoting the anti-Israel hashtag #COVID1948. #COVID1948 connects the founding of the state of Israel to the novel coronavirus, implying that Israel has been far worse for the world than the current COVID-19 pandemic. As initially reported by the Stanford Internet Observatory, after attaining a peak in May 2020, the hashtag largely fell into disuse. However, in the wake of the 11-day 2021 Israel-Hamas war, #COVID1948 was promoted vigorously by a group of Iranian accounts, gained renewed popularity, and trended throughout the world, including the United States. […] The renewed global attention on Israel during the Israeli-Hamas war, caused #Covid1948 to trend on Twitter in the United States. Later in June 2021, many of these same accounts explicitly coordinated to promote and trend another hashtag, #USSLiberty. This hashtag seeks to rehash the Israeli bombing of the USS Liberty during the Six-Day Arab-Israeli War in 1967. Altogether, the DFRLab found that these pro-Iranian accounts coordinated together in May and June to promote animus and anti-Israel sentiment.
Read the rest here.
Iran is one of the most active influence actors in its use of hackers and other cyber operations. The country also employs a large network of affiliated groups and organizations such as the Islamic Center of England. Iran also funds PressTV, a global media operation in support of its goals. Recent GIOR coverage of Iranian cyber campaigns has included:
- In July, we reported on an Iranian disinformation campaign targeting Israeli activists on private communication apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and other encrypted chat apps.
- In July, we reported on an Iranian disinformation campaign on social media spreading discord and anti-Semitic tropes in the US.
- In April, we reported that Facebook removed a network of Iranian fake accounts targeting Israel, the UK, Iraq, and Afghanistan.