Researchers find Iranian-linked online campaign to spread anti-Saudi, anti-Israel and anti-American content

Researchers find Iranian-linked online campaign to spread anti-Saudi, anti-Israel and anti-American content
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Researchers at a Canadian firm announced Tuesday that they found evidence of an Iranian-backed global online disinformation campaign targeting U.S., Saudi and Israeli interests.

The University of Toronto–based Citizen Lab said in a report that it had uncovered a "network of inauthentic personas and social media accounts," dubbed "Endless Mayfly," operated out of Iran targeting the U.S. and other regional rivals of Tehran.


The network "spreads falsehoods and amplifies narratives critical of Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Israel," according to Citizen Lab.

"Our investigation identifies cases where Endless Mayfly content led to incorrect media reporting and caused confusion among journalists, and accusations of intentional wrongdoing. Even in cases where stories were later debunked, confusion remained about the intentions and origins behind the stories," it added.

Among the reported disinformation was a fake news article claiming that a senior Israeli official had been dismissed by Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE on suspicion of being a Russian agent, though no such event ever occurred.

"Despite extensive exposure of Endless Mayfly’s activity by established news outlets and research organizations, the network is still active, albeit with some shifts in tactics," Citizen Lab concluded in its report.

News of Iran's alleged misinformation efforts come as tensions between the Trump administration and Tehran have been escalating for weeks.

The Trump administration announced last week that a carrier strike group and bomber task force have been deployed to the Persian Gulf, with national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump job approval rises amid record partisan gap: Gallup The Hill's Morning Report - Pompeo condemns Iran for 'act of war' while Trump moves with caution Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet MORE citing “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" in the region.

The U.S. has also reportedly linked Iran to the sabotage of four oil tankers with explosive devices earlier this week.