Fake Blogs and Social Media Accounts Smear Exiled Iranian Journalists

Via The Guardian:

Iran has been conducting a smear campaign designed to intimidate Iranian journalists living in exile, including apparent death threats. Cyber-activists linked to the Islamic republic have fabricated news, duplicated Facebook accounts and spread false allegations of sexual misconduct by exiled journalists, while harassment of family members back in Iran has been stepped up by security officials.

Staff at the BBC’s Persian service in London are among dozens of Iranian journalists who have been subjected to what appears to be an operation sponsored by the authorities and aimed at discrediting reporters in the eyes of the public in Iran…

…In recent weeks, the pro-regime activists have set up a number of fake Facebook accounts and blogs, purporting to belong to BBC journalists or their Iranian colleagues. Web users who want to access the real BBCPersian.com, might accidentally visit its counterfeit at persianbbc.ir. The fake site mirrors the BBC’s site in design and fonts but has completely different content...

…Nafiseh Kouhnavard, a presenter on BBC Persian’s talkshow Your Turn, is one of the victims. In a fake Facebook account that carries her name and picture, she supposedly confesses to a culture of extramarital relationships among journalists working for the BBC’s Persian service. The fake comments attributed to Kouhnavard were reproduced extensively in Iran.

"You wrote about my relationships with my colleagues," she is falsely quoted by a national newspaper in Iran as saying. "Swinging … is not only limited to me, in fact it is common and normal here.

First carried in Vatan-e-Emrooz daily, the fake material has since been republished by state-affiliated news organisations. The fabricated contents are usually chosen carefully to target the most sensitive issues in Iran, especially among conservatives wary of western lifestyles.

The Guardian, Iran creates fake blogs in smear campaign against journalists in exile.

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