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While there has been significant attention given to foreign influence operations by state-actors like Iran, far less has been given to how global events shape—and skew—the reality depicted by the Iranian regime to the Iranian people. Over the past months, Iran has faced new challenges and opportunities in the information landscape – domestically, regionally, and internationally.

Iran has been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been exacerbated by heavy-handed censorship about the threat of the disease and the government’s response. The situation has been compounded by an influx of general health misinformation about coronavirus that proved fatal to hundreds of Iranian citizens. 

Across the Middle East, COVID-19 is the latest topic in a long-running contest of narratives between regional adversaries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The competition is not new, but the topics certainly change with the news. 

The Iranian regime has also attempted to shift attention toward other country’s shortcoming in responding to COVID-19 and capitalize on unrest elsewhere, especially racial justice protests over the killing of George Floyd in the United States. This is the latest in an effort not to proactively push propaganda with a focus on domestic control in the face of Iran’s own ongoing protest movement and international competition against adversarial nations. 

This digital panel discussion will examine Iran’s information environment in the face of the latest global developments. This event, hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and Middle East Program, will provide an overview of these overlapping information conflicts. 


Emerson T. Brooking
Resident Fellow, Digital Forensic Research Lab
Atlantic Council

Holly Dagres
Nonresident Fellow
Atlantic Council

Simin Kargar
Nonresident Fellow, Digital Forensic Research Lab
Atlantic Council

Michael Lipin
Voice of America

Farhad Souzanchi
Director of Research and Media

Facts and how we can work together to counter and build resilience against disinformation are more imperative today than they’ve ever been. 360/Virtual is a series of online discussions, hosted by the DFRLab, which brings together experts, decision makers, and our global community of Digital Sherlocks for interactive discussions focusing on the most pressing challenges of the day.

Through our Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council works with allies and partners in Europe and the wider Middle East to protect US interests, build peace and security, and unlock the human potential of the region.