UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Networked Trolling of Critical Journalists and News Organizations in Iraq Al-Rawi, Ahmed; Tenove, Chris; Klein, Peter

Abstract

In this study, we have identified a Twitter network of bad actors mostly affiliated with Iraqi militias that are closely connected to the federal Iraqi government. Using disinformation and threats of legal action, these users often target journalists and news organizations that are critical of them. Three datasets were collected totaling about 16,000 tweets by using 6 Arabic hashtags. We found three major themes: public shaming and personal attacks; legal threats and misinformation accusations; and glorifying Shiite heroism and promoting conspiracies. These bad actors also created a coordinated attack against journalists, news organizations, and human rights activists and even the UN representative in Iraq, Jeanine Plasschaert, falsely accusing her of fabricating the 2021 federal election results.

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CC BY 4.0