Iran’s Minister of Communications artificially increases his Twitter followers

Based on Iran International's research, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, or his PR team, have increased the number of his Twitter followers artificially.

In the past two years, companies like Facebook and Twitter have exposed different social media campaigns organized by the regime of Iran and have blocked the accounts tied to those campaigns. In some cases, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) was also involved in the campaigns and spreading rumors.

For the first time, Iran International has discovered a different campaign by a government official in which President Rouhani’s Minister of Communications is trying to create trends in Twitter with the help of fake and unknown accounts.

Based on Iran International’s investigation, Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi has hired an army of fake accounts on December 11 and 12 in order to artificially keep the number of his followers up.

This effort by Jahromi or his PR team was triggered in response to an online campaign by Iranian users to block him on Twitter and bring the number of his followers down. Iranian Twitter users started the campaign in reaction to the internet shutdown in Iran after the country-wide protests, and specifically after Jahromi posted a tweet about surprising his followers, in response to which Iranian Twitter users called on everyone to “surprise” Jahromi by blocking him.

But instead of a gradual decrease in the number of followers as a result of that campaign, the number of Jahromi’s followers increased exponentially.

According to Iran International’s research, the number of Jahromi’s Twitter followers for September, October, and November have increased by 253.5 on average every day. This pattern continues until December 10, a day before the “surprise” campaign. But on December 11 and 12, the number suddenly increases to almost 3200 a day.

Although one could interpret this increase in numbers as Jahromi’s sudden rise in popularity, Iran International’s investigation shows a different reality.

The research on Jahromi’s latest 15000 followers shows:

  • 59 percent of the followers (8821) created their account in 2019, and 6170 (41 percent) created their account in the past 40 days.
  • 35 percent (5192) have tweeted less than 10 tweets.
  • 43 percent (6418) follow less than 10 users.
  • 28 percent (4179) have less than 10 followers.

With the assessment of these results and the contents of these accounts, Iran International has concluded that most of the recent followers of Minister Jahromi are not real accounts and it is a campaign to increase the number of followers in response to the Surprise campaign.


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