The Iranian government continues to propagate misinformation and fabricated videos on the internet
According to reports, misinformation has been purposely disseminated in order to hide the brutality and arbitrariness of the government. This follows the ever-increasing circulation of reports exposing the wrongdoings of the Iranian government.
On February 14, 2011, Saneh Jaleh, a 26-year-old Kurd, was shot dead by government forces during a demonstration. A drama student at the College of Fine Arts at the University of Teheran, he participated in the protest expressing solidarity with people in Tunisia and Egypt. It was the first time since the election turmoil in 2009 that protesters made use of slogans such as "Tunisia, Egypt, Iran" and "Mubarak, Ben Ali and now Seyed Ali (Ayatollah Khamenei)".
What is obvious to his friends - that he was shot because he participated in a peaceful demonstration - has been completely distorted by the government. Statements were published by the government claiming that Saneh Jaleh was a member of the notorious Basji militia and had been shot by members of the opposition during the protest. Photos were manipulated and published on the internet to substantiate this claim. His family and friends are currently undertaking great efforts to rectify this distorted impression in order to uphold Saneh Jaleh’s memory.
It seems that nine months ago the government created a department whose only mission is the manipulation of the media. It operates by producing and disseminating misinformation and fabricated video clips. This department has a budget of approx. 100 billion Tuman (100 million US dollars). The head of the department is a close friend of Iran’s leader. The department also browses through websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube using special networks called "Ma" (we), "Shoma" (you) and "Paydari" (resistance). In particular, the department uses the Paydari network to create fake accounts, with the aim of manipulating other users of those sites to provide images and information.
The other two networks, Ma and Shoma, publish video clips and photos on YouTube and intend to "expurgate" this platform. This department is working in the guise of public telecommunication. This is why the cyber police can detect websites and is able to close them should users criticize the government.
It has not been known so far who these government hackers in fact are. On February 14, 2011, they hacked into the pro-democracy website Balatarin as a means of proving that they had the means to do so. They circulated false information about the victim Saneh Jaleh. They also fabricated video clips and photos of the daughter of Mir Hossein Mousavi, an opposition politician. What is more, they tried to exaggerate the size of the demonstration on February 11, while downplaying the size of the opposition demonstrations in which Saneh Jaleh had participated.