Twitter Fraud? Embassy Stories of Taking in Injured Protesters “Flawed”


Twitter-Logo.jpgYesterday, I had a chat with a senior person at CNN who shared that nearly all of the major news organizations were having to work with Iran related video and other information being sent to them that was not as vetted as normal.
I know the feeling. Yesterday and today, there has been a great deal of Twitter traffic about embassies that were taking in injured protesters. The Canadians were under attack on Twitter for not taking in protesters until it was reported, again on Twitter, that the Canadians were looking for doctors to be able and help.
A high quality map of Tehran-based foreign embassies taking in those who needed help was distributed. I posted the link on my blog here at The Washington Note.
And then a counter campaign also appeared warning those injured to stay away from Embassies because the basij were waiting for them at the embassy entrances.
I now must publicly question the entire exchange over twitter. I did get my link to the embassy roster and map — not from twitter — but from a friend who is an Iranian diplomat that has been stationed in an Asian country. I don’t think he maliciously sent be bad information, but I do think he may have recycled other material that was being pushed out through the new media.
The reason that I know this is that I had a note come to me from a senior staff member of the British Embassy to the United States — who after seeing my blog and a similar reference on Huffington Post that the UK Embassy was taking in injured protesters contacted the Foreign & Commercial Office in London to confirm.
The British Foreign Ministry spoke directly to the British Ambassador in Tehran who said that the reports of the British Embassy taking in injured were incorrect. I would say fraudulent.
Iranian authorities supporting Ahmadenijad and Ayatollah Khamenei have been trying to blame the domestic turmoil on foreign governments. And one could imagine that even “taking in” those injured in a domestic crisis would be considered by the Iranian government as meddling.
On one hand, I was impressed by the Brits taking in the injured and thought it was a brave thing to do. Then, on the other, more privately — I thought to myself that such an action could be twisted by the Iranian government and have serious diplomatic consequences.
So, I don’t know who was misreporting on the Embassy issue — and don’t know if other Embassies are or are not taking in injured victims of state aggression.
All I know for certain is that what was reported on Twitter is in part false — and that the British Embassy is not accepting injured people from the protests through its doors.
This intriguing story could be a case of “twitter fraud.”
— Steve Clemons


18 comments on “Twitter Fraud? Embassy Stories of Taking in Injured Protesters “Flawed”

  1. JamesW says:

    Those who side with Islamic Republic of Iran are saying that they will not be a part of new and free Iran in the future.


  2. Sam Guzik says:

    Walt Handelsman, an animator at Newsday, has a great cartoon this
    week about the impact Twitter is having on the rioting in Iran.
    Check it out at


  3. Matt says:

    Foreign & *Commmonwealth* Office.
    Commerce is dealt with by UKTI, which is an agency that sits between the FCO and the BIS (formerly DTI) and answers to both.


  4. Dody Gunawinata says: abous this AP news that the Italian instructed their embassy in Tehran to take the injured
    (if this indeed an AP report)


  5. ... says:

    cliff, that might be true, but it has to do with those making conclusions off of it more then the veracity of it at this point…


  6. Cliff Rowley says:

    The information was never verified, and this was clearly outlined
    along with the information.


  7. Eldercato says:

    The Twitter campaign, while believed to be true at
    the time actually forced countries hand. I know. It
    was MY list on MY blog that Huffington Post Linked
    to. Steve Clemons PLEASE Contact me ASAP by email.
    Thank you.


  8. Paul Norheim says:

    “Neda” is becoming the powerful symbol of the revolt. It is
    emblematic for the current media environment that nobody can
    confirm 1) that her name actually is “Neda”, 2) that she was shot,
    nor 3) that she died.


  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Others asked for confirmations or photos. None appeared”
    Just like the “three hour vote count” propaganda, eh?


  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “the Western conspiracy against the Iranian regime is responsible for everything bad in Iran, persecuting it’s legitimate regime, and the U.S. is just aching to invade and occupy Iran.”
    Like I said before, when you make these asinine all-encompassing stupid straw remarks, you only damage your own credibility. You should really consider shutting your ignorant maw long enough to consider what you are typing before you push “send”.


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hmmmm, interesting.
    Do you think some of the commenters that have accused me of wearing a “tin foil hat”, and of being a “conspiracy theorist” will now apologize?
    Doubtful. More likely as not, they’ll ignore the FACT that the internet is not only a window to the truth, it is also a tool of deception. And a huge part of what we think we “know” about what is occuring in Iran has been gleaned from the internet. It is simple bias that determines whether or not you believe you are looking through a window while refusing to consider you might be on the recieving end of a tool.


  12. Bill R. says:

    The anti-Israel/U.S. hate spammers are at it again. Every post on this blog is twisted somehow to repeat the same refrain. Yes, we know, we know, ‘the Western conspiracy against the Iranian regime is responsible for everything bad in Iran, persecuting it’s legitimate regime, and the U.S. is just aching to invade and occupy Iran.’ We got the message, folks. Now we can return to the regularly scheduled programming after your repeated and ludicrous advertisement.


  13. Bob Morris says:

    (Reposted from my blog) Another example of how one
    needs to be careful about what’s on Twitter.
    Deliberate disinformation is a distinct

    Last night on the twitter stream for
    #iranelection, there was a sudden burst of tweets
    about how tanks were entering Tehran. Others asked
    for confirmations or photos. None appeared. Then
    some military folks opined that tanks don’t do
    well in urban areas and in fact are quite
    vulnerable. Then others tracked the tank tweets
    back to their origins. They came from just-created
    Twitter accounts with just a few followers and
    thus were probable Iran government (or supporters)
    attempts at disinformation and psyops. Thus,
    within a few minutes, a disinfo campaign was
    launched, then stopped dead.


  14. dqueue says:

    On the one, very cynical hand, it makes me wonder how much of
    the twitter data is outright propaganda and perception
    management. Perhaps the Iranian news “blackout” is more
    successful than we know.


  15. easy e says:

    Informed Comment Blog Respondent:
    “Every major Western news channel is leading with the story of Iranians protesters being “beaten and killed.” These Western news channels were SILENT when Israel was bombing and killing scores of innocent Palestinians.
    The massive news coverage of Iran is part of the plan to paint Iran as dangerous and in need of Western intervention, aka invasion and occupation.”


  16. He Who Must Not Be Named says:

    Something untrue appears on the internets? Who’d a
    thunk it?


  17. Steve Clemons says:

    …, thanks. I realize I don’t always hit the balls in the direction you like — but glad you thought this was on target.
    I know that there is a lot of misinformation out there and have been one to work hard at getting sources inside Tehran to communicate with. Some have suggested that I was getting a lot of info from the twitter mania — which wasn’t true. Even the embassy list I posted came via another source originally — but there is so much being washed around, it’s very hard not to fall for some of what is there — and as I wrote the other day, there are iran government twitter feeds trying to mix disinformation in with other well-meaning and real comments.
    and then there are well meaning people who want to be in the action — who are nonetheless inventing stories. that’s a real problem – and was clear in the case of the UK embassy.
    all best, steve


  18. ... says:

    steve, thanks for this article. i appreciate it.. it sheds light on the possibility that not everything one reads is valid and that a questioning mind needs to consider a number of things before accepting everything they are told, over twitter or elsewhere.. thanks!


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