Internet Anthropologist Think Tank: Regime spaming Twitter.

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    Tuesday, July 07, 2009

    Regime spaming Twitter.


    Iran Pro-Regime Voices Multiply Online (WSJ)

    Iran Pro-Regime Voices Multiply Online : Via Wall Street Journal.

    Ariel Silverstone, an Internet security expert in Atlanta, says the number of pro-government messages on Twitter in the past few days has increased to about 100 every six hours from just one every 12 hours or so earlier in the post-election period.

    It is impossible to determine whether the comments come from members of Iran's government or simply supporters. Attempts to reach such users of Twitter weren't succ . essful.

    But Internet experts see clues in certain patterns of use. In the case of Vagheeiat, the user biography on Twitter says the person who sent the message is a member of a unit of the Revolutionary Guard, which oversees the Basij. The user's profile links to the Web site of the Revolutionary Guard unit. Vagheeiat used Twitter on only one day, last Thursday.

    On Twitter, users can receive the messages of others by choosing to "follow" them, or joining in conversations on a certain topic. Many of the Iranian users sending pro-government missives opened accounts only a few days ago, and have few, if any, followers -- nor are they following anyone else, Mr. Silverstone said. Also pointing to an orchestrated effort, some pro-regime messages are simultaneously blasted from different online accounts at regular intervals. Among them: "Mousavi the Instigator is in custody," referring to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

    Twitter Inc.'s co-founder Biz Stone declined to comment.

    The government "has made a concrete effort to fight the opposition online," Mr. Silverstone says. "Over the past few days this has really increased."

    While some of the tactics are new -- particularly the use of Twitter -- the regime and its supporters aren't new to the Internet. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has had his own blogs, in English and Persian, since the summer of 2006, and posted four messages before the recent election. Earlier this year, the Revolutionary Guard put out a call online for 10,000 bloggers to spread its views.

    In one instance, the regime has sought to tap into the power of the Internet to help identify and round up individuals for arrest. A Web site called Gerdab, which means "vortex" in Persian, shows nearly two dozen candid photos of individuals with their faces circled in red.

    The site, which says it is owned by the organized-crime-fighting unit of the Revolutionary Guard, states that these people were behind the post-election chaos, and seeks information about them. There are spaces for visitors to the site to enter names, addresses, phone numbers and other information about the people who are marked.

    The site says that so far two of the people pictured had been identified and arrested.

    Read Original Article:(Via Wall Street Journal.)

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