Policy & Partnerships Lightning Talks | Exposing the Harassment Campaign Against Female Iranian Journalists

In the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini, recent protests in Iran have highlighted a concerning trend of increased online harassment faced by female journalists and activists of the Iranian diaspora. Prominent journalists and academics such as Negar Mortazawi (Iran Podcast), Farzan Fassihi (The New York Times), Tara Far (Human Rights Watch), and Azadeh Moaveni (NYU) have been identified as victims of a targeted campaign aimed at undermining their credibility by falsely associating them with the Iranian regime. Surprisingly, traditional methods of tracking harassment using word lists failed to detect the presence of this new form of harassment. Further investigation uncovered a novel approach employed by the perpetrators, using polite language instead of derogatory terms to evade detection by sentiment models. Additionally, this campaign avoided the use of hashtags to prevent easy categorization. To address this issue, a new word list specifically designed for this context was created, resulting in the identification of a significant number of harassment cases. A comparative analysis was conducted by comparing the results against a control group of non-Iranian and male Iranian journalists reporting on the Iranian protests, revealing a stark difference in the harassment experienced by the three groups. This confirms the initial hypothesis and forms the basis of an academic paper being completed at the Center for Informed Democracy and Social Cybersecurity at Carnegie Mellon University.


Lightning talks are 5-7 minute talks grouped with other 5-7 minute talks across a 50 minute session. There will be time for Q&A after all of the lightning talks in a session.

Location Name
Seacliff B
Thursday, July 13, 2023
11:10 AM - 12:00 PM
Session Type
Lightning Talk
Session Themes
All TrustCon attendees
Will this session be recorded?