First among these is a post from conservative media contributor Kambree Kawahine Koa who published a video to her Twitter feed that purported to show a mass anti-government demonstration in Iran. Kawahine Koa told her more than 83,000 followers: “Whoa! 300,000 March for democracy in Iran! Incredible!”
However, Twitter users were quick to debunk the claim, pointing out that the video is actually of protests in Bahrain in 2011. In a series of tweets posted on New Year’s Day, the Bahrain-based Twitter user who re-posted the video said that she had been surprised to find that it was viewed 50,000 times in just two hours. Up to then, it had been viewed a mere 18,000 times in seven years.
“I wanted to know what was causing this sudden interest & I discovered that US press & American activists had picked it up & republished it as depicting protests in Iran even though my original Arabic tweet clearly stated the protest was in 2011 [in] Bahrain,” the user’s post read.
The video has now been viewed more than 1.25 million times on YouTube. The user believes that the popularity of the video is indicative of the American media’s double standards, saying: “No one was interested in the video when it was about the Bahraini people but within minutes it spreads across the US & the world when the video was claimed to be of the current Iranian protests.”
In another misleading post, journalist Emran Feroz published a picture of a woman in a headscarf launching herself at police in protective riot gear. The picture, which was posted on New Year’s Eve, was simply captioned “Iran.”
Later it emerged the picture was taken from an Iranian movie called Gold Collars. Responding to his critics Tuesday, Feroz was unapologetic, saying the picture was “symbolic.” Some commentators, however, were quick to mock Feroz’s claim.
There have also been reports of pictures of pro-regime demonstrations being passed off as anti-government protests, with another popular post purporting to be an aerial shot of a demonstration in Kermanshah in western Iran. In fact it’s a protest in Buenos Aires.
This week, too, Twitter suspended a fake account on behalf of Al Jazeera after the company complained that @Aljazeerairan was being used to spread “misleading and false news content” on the ongoing protests.