A new report from the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy details a sprawling disinformation operation with links to Iran. In the report, called Burned After Reading: Endless Mayfly’s Ephemeral Disinformation Campaign, Citizen Lab researchers investigate Endless Mayfly, an Iran-aligned network of inauthentic personas and social media accounts that spreads falsehoods and amplifies narratives critical of Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Israel.

According to the report, Endless Mayfly publishes divisive content on websites that impersonate legitimate media outlets. Inauthentic personas are then used to amplify the content into social media conversations. In some cases, these personas also privately and publicly engage journalists, political dissidents, and activists.

Once Endless Mayfly content achieves social media traction, it is deleted and the links are redirected to the domain being impersonated. This distinguishing technique, which Citizen Lab calls “ephemeral disinformation”, creates an appearance of legitimacy while obscuring the origin of the false narrative.

Read the full report.

Follow this report in the news

New Citizen Lab report suggests Iran spreads fake news (Globe and Mail)
An Iranian disinformation operation impersonated dozens of media outlets to spread fake articles (Buzzfeed)
Report: Iran-linked disinformation effort had personal touch (National Post)
New report shows how a pro-Iran group spread fake news online (New York Times)
Iranian disinformation campaign targeted Israelis (Jerusalem Post)

May 14, 2019