Middle East Influence Operations: Observations Across Social Media Takedowns

Researchers Shelby Grossman, Renee DiResta and Josh A. Goldstein examine Middle East influence operations across social media, including how regimes incorporated social media activities into their own domestic and foreign policy toolkits. The full paper can be found at the Project on Middle East Political Science website.

The 2009 Green Movement in Iran and 2011 Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region showed governments the power of social media activism and its potential threat to regime stability.  Early media coverage and academic research posited that the new platforms would be democratizing. However, in the years that followed, the region’s governments transformed from passive targets of social media mobilization to active online agents themselves—shaping and constraining public opinion for their own political ends.