Syria’s Information War: Regime, Rebels Hack to Spread Narratives

Fake Claims of Rebel Collapse, Assad's Death Add to Confusion

by Jason Ditz, August 07, 2012

The message was clear: Russian diplomats in Damascus yesterday reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad is dead.

Except he wasn’t. The tweets seemed legitimate and President Assad’s death gained such currency that he had to make a special appearance on state TV to confirm that he was actually alive.

This is just the latest in a long line of examples of the “information war” between Syria’s regime and rebels. Rebels had hacked the Twitter account to make false proclamations of Assad’s death. It wasn’t the last time this was going to happen, either, as Reuters lost one of their Twitter accounts to a pro-regime group that was announcing a virtual rebel collapse in Aleppo. Reuters also said to shut down their blog system after several fake blog posts were made related to the Syrian civil war.

The real news coming out of Syria has been extremely scarce, with a lot of outlets trying to make sense of claims by regime and rebels that are often in stark contrast to one another. Now, the media outlets themselves are a battleground to be claimed, and the fog of war has gotten even thicker.

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