False ‘Iranian Protest’ Videos Surface Online

Some social media users attempted to pass off footage from past demonstrations and other countries.

As protests spread around Iran in the waning days of 2017 and early 2018, some social media users began spreading misinformation regarding what they claimed was “footage” from the Iranian anti-government demonstrations.

In one example, a conservative Twitter user posted what she claimed was video of 300,000 protesters marching down a street:

But the video was quickly debunked by Marc Owen Jones, a lecturer at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies in the English city of Exeter.

Jones noted that the footage in question actually depicts a February 2011 protest in Bahrain. Several other videos corroborate Jones’ argument:

Similarly a separate user, which claims to be a “parody account,” posted a video on 29 December 2017 like so:

But this post, too, was a misrepresentation: as evidenced by the Spanish-language remarks heard in the video it was not filmed anywhere near Iran or Kurdistan. The footage was actually filmed (and posted online) amid a series of demonstrations in Argentina earlier that month:

At least 20 people have reportedly died during the demonstrations in Iran, which began in late December 2017 and were spurred by concerns over both widespread youth unemployment and a struggling economic climate.

Officials responded by blocking access to social media platforms that might help organize further protests—and as such, images from inside the country have been limited in comparison to demonstrations in 2009, when images and videos of massive protests were widely shared on social media.

On 3 January 2018 Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, who heads the country’s Revolutionary Guards, said that the “sedition” had been quelled.

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