State-Sponsored Twitter Accounts Pushing For War With Iran

How Twitter remains complicit in allowing the U.S. Department of State to finance propaganda

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Algorithmically determined community (modularity class) of 6.3K Twitter accounts that emerged from a larger, Iranian-focused dataset (comprising 26.2K accounts). Each dot (node) represents a Twitter account. Each line (edge) represents Following/Followers connections. Colors represent algorithmically determined communities (currently broken out into three colors/communities as graph algorithms were reapplied after filtering dataset from 26.2K accounts to 6.3K). Size of each node represents how connected accounts are relative to 6.3K dataset. Bottom left image highlights accounts that @IranDisinfo is Following (5 accounts from 6.3K dataset). Bottom right image highlights accounts that are Followers of @IranDisinfo (4.1K accounts)

Iran Disinformation Project

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Saeed’s tweet from Jan 18th, 2019
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Farashgard

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Same 6.3K account graph/dataset (node coloring has been modified above vs. opening images)
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Tavaana

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Source: Tavaana’s site
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Source thread
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Making Sense Of It All

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The vast majority of Farashgard-affiliated accounts (right image; non-blue nodes) — based on their Followers/Following interconnectivity within the context of 6.3K account dataset — have algorithmically been determined to be part of the blue community (left image)

FDD and Iran Disinformation Project

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Top left image highlights accounts that @mdubowitz is Following (63 accounts from 6.3K dataset). Top right image highlights accounts that are Followers of @mdubowitz (2.3K accounts). Bottom left image highlights accounts that @SGhasseminejad is Following (158 accounts). Bottom right image highlights accounts that are Followers of @SGhasseminejad (2.8K accounts)
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Filtered 2.6K account community (non-blue nodes are Farashgard-affiliated accounts)
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Top left image highlights accounts that @mdubowitz is Following (23 accounts from 2.6K dataset). Top right image highlights accounts that are Followers of @mdubowitz (936 accounts). Bottom left image highlights accounts that @SGhasseminejad is Following (76 accounts). Bottom right image highlights accounts that are Followers of @SGhasseminejad (1.3K accounts)

Farashgard and Iran Disinformation Project

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Right image is filtered to include the 30 most influential accounts (based on eigenvector centrality algorithm)
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12 of the 30 accounts are Farashgard-affiliated (founding members, senior advisers or associates). Also included are FDD’s CEO @mdubowitz and @Tavaana

Tavaana and Iran Disinformation Project

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OK, So What’s Your Point?

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Coordinated Inauthentic Activity

Auditing Twitter’s Actions

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6.3K accounts (full dataset; top left), 5.5K accounts that still exist (top right), 776 accounts that no longer exist (bottom left), 60 accounts that have been suspended (bottom right)

I’m Not Inauthentic, I Just “Like” A Lot

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Each of these accounts has, on average, liked 100+ tweets per day since being created — while, on average, tweeting fewer than 10 times per day (every account above — with the exception of @Amirali8721 — is Following @IranDisinfo)
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Accountability

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Note: I never stated the trending hashtag was “driven in large part by bots” (rather, I tweeted a thread about the hashtag “clearly being gamed”)

Fixing The Problem

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Transparency

Written by

CEO & Founder, Social Forensics | Previously: Co-Founder, Elementus | Featured in BBC, CNN, BuzzFeed, and Quartz, among others | SocialForensics.com

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