The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has promised Trump that Trump will help combat protests against police violence. The United Arab Emirates provided secret illegal campaign contributions for the Trump campaign. American Chicken McNuggets will give you COVID.
These are just a few articles published by three “journalists” Shadia Ben Yousef, Rumaisa Hanaoui and Ahlam al-Shumayli since May 2019. But it’s not just that they are all fake stories. They are all based on deceptive websites, fake screenshots or non-existent events. As Facebook announced on Tuesday, many of them were hyped by trolls based in Iran using fake accounts.
A joint investigation by the intelligence agencies of “Daily Beast”
In October, after “Daily Beast” posted information about Hanaoui and al-Shumayli accounts to Twitter, the company suspended them for violating Twitter’s spam and platform manipulation rules. “The Daily Beast” could not find any social media accounts under the name of Ben Yousef.
In a report on coordinating untrue acts released on Tuesday, Facebook said it identified four accounts, which are part of the Iranian account network, “mainly aimed at a global audience that speaks Arabic, French, and English” and ” Typing errors outside the platform are the central “domain,” and then check the information for “Daily Beast” and “Mandian.” The company wrote that the automatic anti-spam system stopped “overwhelming majority” after it was launched in 2020. Account activity.
It is not clear who is behind the counterfeit content used in his articles. However, the source material of their story shows a similar strategy to Iran’s “Endless May Fly” disinformation campaign, which was initially determined by researchers at the Citizens Laboratory at the University of Toronto.
Content produced as part of the Endless Mayfly campaign often relies on deceptive news sites that mimic real news organizations to suppress speech in the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
The most active of the three roles, Shadia Ben Yousef (Shadia Ben Yousef) published an article on a misspelled American version of Defense One that focused on military issues. The format of this article looks like a real website, exaggerating a false claim that the leader of Mossad had visited an Iraqi military base where US troops are stationed.
Simulations on social media have also proved the rich content sources of personas. Ben Yousef relies on many second-hand fake Twitter accounts, including accounts in the name of the diplomat of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the accounts of former French intelligence officials and members of parliament, and the fictitious Yemeni Jihad Fragment Organization, These organizations threaten the Arab-Bahrain Israel Peace Conference.
Shortly before the 2020 presidential election, someone also registered a Facebook account to impersonate an Israeli cybersecurity official and claimed that the royal family of the United Arab Emirates “has generously donated $200 million to Trump’s campaign, hoping that he can continue In power.” Hanaoui published a story about forgery in the Algerian daily El Wamid, which claimed that Israel and the UAE had conspired to get Trump to power.
The fake Israeli Facebook account was also shared with a Twitter account that imitated Corey Lemley, a real Antifa activist in Tennessee. This is clearly spreading false stories about election interference in the Middle East to English-speaking left-wing audiences. Limley confirmed to The Daily Beast that the account was forged and had nothing to do with him.
When “Daily Beast” shared content examples, Facebook and Twitter suspended the accounts involved, but could not determine who was behind.
These characters are mainly published in legitimate Arab news media, but some people also appear on fake news websites established by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. At least two stories appeared on Nilenetonline and Libya Al Mokhtar-IRGC was subsequently seized by the Ministry of Justice on fake news websites disguised as Egyptian and Libyan media and attributed to IRGC.
The character adheres to a theme similar to the “Endless Fly” campaign (criticism of the United States and its allies Saudi Arabia and Israel), but also adds new attention to events in the Middle East: the United Arab Emirates and its leading Arab normalization process In the middle east.
As the United Arab Emirates approaches diplomatic recognition with Israel, these characters try to undermine the country’s image and undermine the division between the UAE and its allies. The character of Ben Yousef forged stories claiming that the UAE had given up support for Saudi Arabia, settled with Saudi Arabia’s Gulf rival, Qatar, and conspired with Israel to control the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and carried out “fake” Israeli opposition Oil tankers in the Gulf have launched attacks to blame Iran.
Yousef al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the United States, told The Daily Beast that although he was not familiar with specific false propaganda work, he was not surprised. “This is obviously what we are going to happen. We know where it came from. We all know what the news will be,” Otaiba said.
Although obvious efforts have been made to shake the idea of opposing standardization, Otaiba said that the propaganda campaign has not had any impact on public opinion. “In the UAE, this has not affected our attitude towards Israel. We are doing our best.”
The character also seized the opportunity of the global pandemic as an opportunity to use the coronavirus as a propaganda weapon against the United States. The character Ben Yousef wrote false stories about Americans and American symbols that served as vectors among allies. One story cites a fictitious coronavirus infection group of the US military in Iraq, and another story uses a Twitter screenshot faked by a French congressman, claiming that four boxes of McDonald’s chicken McNuggets may have given him the virus.
In the nearly two years of ake news campaigns, these characters seem to have received little public attention, until a story by Ben Yousef victimized a grieving Lebanese woman when Najwa Qassem, a popular Al Arabiya broadcasting company at the time, suffered a heart attack. Suddenly died of illness. In January 2020, her friend Rima Najm, a Lebanese journalist and writer, wrote about her horror experience and found a false quote about the incident in the story of Ben Yousef. This story was published in the Egyptian news media, using Najm’s false quotes to describe the death as some kind of suspicious form and related to trying to work on another network.
Najim did not respond to the Daily Beast’s request for comment, but published an article shortly after the incident.
She wrote: “Some people put you in a position that does not belong to you, which is painful. Therefore, you will end up with an action you have not done and a sentence you have not spoken.”
-And other reports by Kelly Weill