The recent attack on the Mujahedin-e Khalq’s office in Berlin can be analyzed from different points of view. However, the wave that the group’s media creates after such incidents requires careful investigation from based on media literacy. Media Literacy is a practical technique and a special skill that is very important to learn. Media literacy helps people to have a proper analysis of the content published in various social networks and media.
Consider that all the MEK-run media immediately after the attack — before the German police gave a report and analysis of the investigation of the incident– claim that the attack was carried out by the agents of the Iranian government. Regardless of whether the truth of this claim is finally confirmed by the German security institutions or not, the publication of such news is included in the category of false news, which is defined by terms such as fake news, misinformation or disinformation.
We know how propaganda works: by repeating what experts call the “big lie.” For example, American experts consider the claims of former US President Donald Trump as such. But when you are faced with a large amount of information in social networks and media every day, it is difficult to distinguish lies from truth. Every day we read false “facts”: misinformation or false news that deliberately mislead us: disinformation.
Why do people believe such information, which is generally called fake news? American psychologist David Rapp, who studies how people learn through reading, believes that memory plays a key role in this. In experiments, he finds that when people read incorrect information, even about trivial subjects they already know, they often become confused and remember the inaccuracies. Subsequently, they answer questions using the incorrect statements.
“You can build memories for the things you’ve read that can then get resuscitated or recalled later in your decision making,” he said, especially when people are not carefully considering what they read. This ability or disability of human mind is exactly what the MEK leaders exploit a lot.
Repeating false information over and over again—such as that the 2020 election was fraudulent that Trump claimed or the nuclear weapons of Saddam Hussein that George W. Bush claimed prior to invading Iraq in 2003— can lead to building memories for the information.
Repeated information is often easy to retrieve, which can lead to problems, Rapp explained. For the MEK, they have been repeating that Iran is building nuclear bomb for decades. They have repeated this fake news over and over since 2002 while no evidence has been found by the inspectors of the international bodies to prove it.
The closure of hundreds of user accounts related to the MEK in order to stop publishing fake news on the Facebook and Twitter platforms, was officially announced by both platforms. This is another proof for the long history of the group in publishing misleading news. At that time, the closure of the user account of a fictional character named “Heshmat Alavi” as the leader of the spread of fake news, was very enlightening for those who sought to learn media literacy.
By Mazda Parsi