, 7 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
This investigative piece by @MazMHussain shows you what’s wrong with much of the #Iran coverage these days and why media outlets and social media companies need to step up and do their homework [THREAD]
This guy, Heshmat Alavi, has published scores of articles in US conservative media in the past couple years alone. He introduces himself as an activist and has consistently advocated confrontation with #Iran. His hawkish reports have made their way to US policy makers
For the past year, he has defamed and threatened reporters, journalists and scholars who seek to bring facts & nuance to the #Iran discourse (colleagues at NYT, WaPo, Johns Hopkins & myself included). He's been reported to @Twitter for fueling hate and propaganda - to no avail
Now here’s the problem: Alavi is not a real person. It’s a coined persona, a propaganda operation run by dissident group the MEK. which uses an army of bots to sway online #Iran debates & give the impression it's popular among Iranians, as researched by @geoffgolberg & others
Until as recently as 2012, the MEK was listed by the State Dept. as foreign terrorist org. For more on the group & how it operate, here's just one recent report by @Channel4News @lindseyhilsum bit.ly/2Q5sCqO
None of the editors/outlets who published Alavi could confirm ever speaking or meeting with him. The Twitter account set up in 2014 under his name has over 30K followers including a number of journalists and DC-based conservative think tank & employees
To those unfamiliar, Alavi could appear as what he claimed: an activist with "a passion for equal rights" & MEK defectors told @theintercept this is exactly what the group was after. For too long it worked, seducing publications & even some officials who leaned on "his work"
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