Misinformation and PR in Qatari Crisis

In the era of fake news, controversy creates an opportunity to further blur the lines of reality and fiction, and produce content that mimics fact when it is anything but.

Since the blockade of Qatar by its neighbors Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain (and also Egypt, Libya and a host of other “me too” states) – we noticed the sudden creation of a website named the Qatar Insider – a quick look at the public whois information of the domain indicates that it was registered on 14th June 2017    – the week following the cutting of ties and closing of borders (important to note that Qatar only has a single land border which it shares with Saudi), which started on 5th June 2017.

In a short span of a week, this website was created, a Twitter account which now has 14,000 followers has also sprung up, as well as a YouTube channel too.

whois

The name Qatar Insider seems to imply that it is created/operated by Qataris, when in fact a few seconds of “digging” you find plainly stated at the bottom of the website’s “About” section that it is run by the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC) – the Saudi US lobbying and PR group.

saprac

The content (which includes written pieces, infographics and videos) is as you would expect from PR people – pure, unadulterated propaganda – baseless, source-less articles, although calling them articles gives the Qatar Insider far more legitimacy than it warrants, when its content is in fact closer to the maniac ramblings of a deranged conspiracy theorist – exhibit A, B , C. This one is hosted on the SAPRAC website but we had to include it because of how insane it sounds, entitled “Qatar: Hosting Sports Under the Banner of Terrorism” – (PDF link).

 

insane

You’d think the Saudis would be a little bit more subtle.

The lesson here is of course – trust nothing.

 

 

 

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