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ISIS created fake CNN and Al Jazeera broadcasts

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ISIS created fake CNN and Al Jazeera broadcasts

The Islamic State has created fake videos that mimic the appearance of mainstream media outlets CNN and Al Jazeera, according to a new report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue shared exclusively with WIRED.

Launched in early March, the campaign was orchestrated by War and mediaa pro-Islamic state media which typically creates full-length videos that promote the group’s ideology and history. The Islamic State, or ISIS, is a UN-designated terrorist group that perpetrated a genocide of the Yazidi population in Iraq and carried out multiple terrorist attacks, including the 2015 attacks in Paris that left 131 people dead; It has also promoted videos of its members beheading journalists and soldiers.

The central element of the campaign was two YouTube channels. One was falsely labeled as CNN and promoted English videos, and the other was branded with the Al Jazeera logo and promoted Arabic videos. The videos featured the logos of real news outlets, and in the case of CNN, the videos also featured a real-time ticker at the bottom of the screen that changed to match the content being shown. The campaign also deployed a network of social media accounts with brands that appeared affiliated with news outlets, in what appears to be an effort to bring the ideology to new audiences.

In total, the campaign created eight original videos, four in each language, discussing topics such as the spread of the Islamic State in Africa and the war in Syria.

A video also focused on The deadly attack on Crocus City Hall in Moscow in March. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and the video attempted to combat it A disinformation narrative promoted by the Kremlin. that Ukraine, not the Islamic State, was responsible.

“It was essentially fake news to debunk fake news,” Moustafa Ayad, executive director for Africa, Middle East and Asia at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, tells WIRED.

Ayad also believes the campaign was a test to determine how successful it would be in circumventing censorship efforts on major Western platforms.

“It’s the first time we’ve really seen a concerted effort by an Islamic State outlet to create this fake news ecosystem that’s not branded as something affiliated with the Islamic State,” Ayad says. “It was very much a test of the system and now they know where there are weaknesses in their strategy.”

The videos remained on YouTube for a month and a half before the company removed them, but during that time, Islamic State supporters also downloaded and reposted them to their own accounts. Some of those videos are still circulating online today because they have not been added to hash sharing database that platforms use to coordinate the removal of terrorist content.

“What they did was essentially build this whole fake little ecosystem of social media channels that are media doppelgangers,” Ayad says.

Each of the videos on YouTube racked up thousands of views, and while none of them went viral, it was “enough for the group to get some traction in outside circles where they would normally get (traction) and saw real people commenting under the videos. ”says Ayad.

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