US Seizes Domains Used to Spread Disinformation
The United States has seized nearly a hundred domains that it alleges were used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to engage in a global disinformation campaign.
According to the seizure documents, four of the 92 websites that were seized purported to be genuine online news outlets. The US alleges that they were actually propaganda machines controlled by the IRGC and used to spread disinformation that aimed to influence American foreign and domestic policy.
The remaining domains were allegedly used to spread Iranian propaganda around the world to countries other than the United States. Among the domains seized were "newsstand7.com,” “usjournal.net,” “usjournal.us,” and “twtoday.net.”
“We will continue to use all of our tools to stop the Iranian Government from misusing US companies and social media to spread propaganda covertly, to attempt to influence the American public secretly, and to sow discord,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers.
“Fake news organizations have become a new outlet for disinformation spread by authoritarian countries as they continue to try to undermine our democracy."
An investigation into the domains was launched after a tip-off from American multinational technology company Google.
Agent John F. Bennett, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's special agent in charge, said: "This investigation, initiated by intelligence we received from Google, was a collaborative effort between the FBI and social media companies Google, Facebook, and Twitter."
Bennett said that yesterday's successful seizure operation underscored the importance of having a cooperative relationship between tech leaders and law enforcement.
“This case is a perfect example of why the FBI San Francisco Division prioritizes maintaining an ongoing relationship with a variety of social media and technology companies," said Bennett.
"These relationships enable a quick exchange of information to better protect against threats to the nation’s security and our democratic processes."
Bennett called for social media users to join in the battle against misinformation on the worldwide web.
"The FBI also urges the public to remain vigilant about the information they find and share on social media," said the agent. "Every citizen must do their part to use a critical eye and look for trusted sources of information.
"We all have a role to play in protecting the American democratic system from foreign adversaries.”