KEY INFORMATION SOURCES
So then we thought that maybe the most prominent news sources in the network would be a good place to look, and we set about creating the ‘info sources’ image.
All of the tiny white dots are bloggers, and then the bigger spheres are the sources most linked to within the network.
Despite Facebook and Twitter being blocked in Iran, they feature prominently in the map of conservative users.
The image shows which websites are the most commonly referenced among pro-government users and how they interact with them. The information sources can be divided into three categories: news, official websites, and tools.
The top news sources for Iran’s pro-government bloggers are Raja News, a hardliner website close to Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, widely recognised as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s spiritual advisor, and Kamran Bagheri Lankarani. Dr. Lankarani was originally one of the 8 candidates approved for the 2013 presidential elections, however he resigned and offered his campaign and support to Saeid Jalili.
Fars News is a news agency closely linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the IRGC, and they are commonly known as a propaganda tool that focuses efforts around defaming regime oppositionists.
Unsurprisingly, the top official website followed by pro-government bloggers is the website of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei (farsi.khamenei.ir) and his office (leader.ir). Websites such as president.ir and ahmadinejad.ir are frequently referenced, however ahmadinejad.ir (Ahmadinejad’s personal blog) is infrequently referenced compared with hardliner news websites such as snn.ir or yjc.ir.
The interesting part of this map for us is that the pro-government users are using the same tools as their opposition. They link to Twitter and Facebook, totally blocked in Iran, and also to Google, which remains unblocked. Pichak is a popular website in Iran from which bloggers can download tools/themes and add-ons for their blogs.