Supporters of Iran’s regime are taking a cue from the opposition’s strategy: They’re mounting an online offensive.
Thousands of Iranians used social-networking sites and blogs after Iran’s election last month to criticize the government and spread news of its violent clashes with protesters.
But over the past week, a growing number of Iranian users of Twitter — the online service that allows users to send short messages — have been “tweeting” in favor of the regime, according to Internet security experts and others studying the development.
Some messages throw cold water on planned protests. “Staying at home tomorrow to avoid angering my elected govt,” one user with the name Eyeran wrote.
Others make threats. A user with the name Vagheeiat (Persian for “realities”) said in an online message to an apparent opposition supporter: “The Basij [volunteer militia] protects the honor of the people and is the killer of you, liars and puppets of the U.S.”
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 successful.