Uncovering Narratives Surrounding Iranian President Raisi's Death

On May 20th, 2024, Iranian state media confirmed the death of Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi following a helicopter crash. The incident, which occurred a day earlier in northern Iran amidst rough weather conditions, also reportedly claimed the lives of the foreign minister and six other passengers and crew members.

Analyzing the Narrative Fallout with PeakMetrics

In the wake of this event, PeakMetrics' narrative intelligence platform uncovered several conspiracy narratives spreading across social media. Here are the key takeaways from our analysis:

Assassination Theories:

Approximately 8.5% of social media posts on the Iranian president’s disappearance and death across Twitter, Reddit, and Telegram hypothesized or claimed that President Raisi was assassinated.

Placing Blame: 

While the crash appears to have been an accident, some social media users spread claims of foreign involvement in the incident. PeakMetrics found that this speculation largely placed the blame on Israel for President Raisi’s death, rather than the United States. While mentions of both countries’ intelligence services spiked after the crash, Mossad mentions far outpaced those of the CIA.

  • On May 19th, social media mentions of the CIA rose 22 times higher than the previous day, while social media mentions of Mossad spiked nearly 2200 times higher than the previous day. 
  • On the day of Raisi’s disappearance and death, Mossad mentions were 474% higher than CIA mentions.

Reach of Iranian Celebrations:

PeakMetrics found that Raisi’s death appeared to moderately mobilize online celebrations from the Iranian opposition. Furthermore, Iranians did not appear deterred in their online celebrations of the president's death by warnings from Iran's government.

  • Approximately 12% of Persian-language Twitter posts sampled by PeakMetrics mentioned a celebration of President Raisi’s death.
  • Only 8% of English-language Twitter posts related to Raisi’s death mentioned celebrations.
  • PeakMetrics did not detect a significant decrease in Twitter posts from Persian speakers celebrating Raisi's death after warnings from cyber police and the public prosecutor's office late on May 19th. 
  • According to the data sampled by PeakMetrics, Persian-language posts celebrating Raisi's death decreased by a mere 4% on May 20th compared to May 19th. If these state warnings effectively deterred the Persian-speaking population, we would expect to see a much more significant decline in posts afterward.

The analysis provided by PeakMetrics demonstrates the power of our narrative intelligence platform in uncovering and understanding the spread of information online. If you like these findings, request a demo.

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