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State-aligned trolling in Iran and the double-edged affordances of Instagram

A new study from BKC Affiliate Simin Kargar investigates the size and perpetrators of online violence, harassment, and abuse against critical members of the Iranian diaspora, including journalists, civil society activists, and artists, among many others.

Abstract: "Online harassment is increasingly applied as a form of information control to curb free speech and exert power in online public spheres. In recent years, states have appeared to be particularly invested in weaponizing information against dissidents in an attempt at dominating social and political discourses. Reports by prominent human rights institutions, as well as anecdotal evidence, indicate that Iran remains among the states with a track record of such actions. The scope of targeted cyber abuse varies by case. This study investigates the size and perpetrators of online violence, harassment, and abuse against critical members of the Iranian diaspora, including journalists, civil society activists, and artists, among many others. This study substantiates findings of qualitative interviews with a quantitative study of Instagram accounts of related individuals and explores the patterns and communities involved in disseminating hate speech in an attempt at manipulating public opinion and suppressing voices of dissidents."

Read more at New Media & Society...

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